January 31, 2012

Lemon Icebox Pie

If you like lemon even just a little, then you will LOVE this tart. The lemon flavor is very strong and very tart. The chantilly cream balances the tartness very nicely. I'm usually a "cool whip" topped pie kind of girl, but I highly recommend making the chantilly cream. It made a world of difference!!

Lemon Icebox Pie

For the crust:
14 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm

For the filling:
2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
1 1/4 cups strained lemon juice (from the 2 zested lemons below plus an additional 4–6)
Zest of 2 lemons
8 large egg yolks

For the chantilly cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

To make the crust:

Heat the oven to 325°F. Break the graham crackers into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor along with the sugar and salt. Pulse 8 times, until the cracker crumbs are semi-fine (they shouldn't be powdery but not in large shards either) and the crackers and sugar are combined. Pour in the butter and pulse until the butter is blended in and the mixture isn't crumbly and holds its shape when you squeeze it, about twelve 1-second pulses. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch springform pan and push and press the crumb mixture into the bottom and two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust into place. Set aside.

To make the filling:

Whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice and set aside. Whisk the zest with the egg yolks in a medium bowl until pale, 30 to 60 seconds, and then whisk in the lemon juice-condensed milk mixture.

Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet, pour the mixture into the crust, and carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake until the center jiggles slightly, like a soft-setting custard, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 hour on a cooling rack. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap (be careful not to let the plastic wrap touch the top of the pie) and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To make the chantilly cream:

Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Add the vanilla and sift in the confectioners' sugar. Whip on low speed to combine and then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until medium-stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Before serving, wrap a wet, warm kitchen towel around the edges of the springform pan to release the pie from the pan's sides. Unclasp the pan and remove the pie. Fill a pitcher with hot water, dunk your knife in, wipe off the blade, and slice. Top with a dollop of chantilly cream and serve immediately, or keep in the freezer for up to 1 week.
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Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

This is a Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake that is moist, tender and – most importantly – very flavorful. The lemon in the cake and the lemon glaze keep the cake light and fresh tasting, perfect for an afternoon snack.  Without the glaze, which has plenty of fresh lemon juice, the lemon flavor in the cake is fairly subtle. I baked this cake in a tube pan, the same type of pan that I would use for angel food cake. My favorite thing about it is the fact that you still get to see the beautiful, high-rising top of the cake, with all it’s little nooks and crannies just waiting to be filled with a drizzle of icing.

When you’re mixing up this cake, don’t worry if the batter seems thick. Pound cake, although it is tender in the end, is dense compared to many other cakes and really requires a thick batter to achieve this texture. The butter in the cake lends a nice background flavor to it, but the vegetable oil that I added in is what helps keep it moist for several days after baking.

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake
Serves 16

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tbsp lemon zest
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil

* If you don't have buttermilk on hand you can easily make your own using milk and vinegar or lemon juice. For each cup of buttermilk you need: add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup and then fill to the 1 c. mark with milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in lemon zest, then beat in the eggs one at a time until well-combined.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine vanilla, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Working in two or three additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, ending with a final addition of dry ingredients. Stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before topping with lemon glaze (recipe below)

Lemon Glaze

2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites
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January 29, 2012

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

I was in Chicago recently visiting my best friend, her husband and their new baby girl. Her husband's birthday just happened to occur during my visit, so I decided to make dessert for his birthday since they don't really have time to go out right now, with a 2 month old daughter and all. Victor is from France so I wanted to make a dessert that was rich and indulgent.... this was the perfect fit for that. This cheesecake is insanely rich and chocolatey. Perfect for a romantic dinner with your Valentine! Enjoy!!

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake


24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package) (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Scharffen Berger)
4 large eggs

3/4 cup whipping cream
6 ounces Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
1 tablespoon sugar

Bittersweet chocolate curls

*If unavailable, substitute another high-quality bittersweet chocolate. (I used Lindt 70% Cocoa, found in the candy aisle of the grocery store)


For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight. (I didn't have that long so I put it in the freezer for about 4 hours, until it was cold).

For topping:
Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, and tilt the cheesecake to spread within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. Do ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated.

Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving.
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January 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake w/ Peanut Butter Glaze

Can we just take a minute and pause to give thanks for how amazing this cake is?

Okay, done. Holy cow this cake is amazing. It is very dense, very peanut buttery (that's now a word) and the chocolate chips are just icing on the cake (pun intended). I made this for our temporary receptionist's last day at our office. We had a potluck lunch for her and I brought dessert, naturally.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake w/ Peanut Butter Glaze

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 20 min



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter (don't use natural)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated white sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips


1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray 10-cup tube pan generously with nonstick spray (I like the Pam Baking Spray).

2. Prepare cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together peanut butter and butter. Add sugar and beat an additional 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, beating just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared tube pan. Tap it a couple of times on the counter to shake out any hidden air pockets.

2. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, checking on the cake at 1 hour to make sure it's not browning too quickly on top. If browning too quickly, just place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the pan. When a toothpick is inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean, your cake is done. Let cool for 20 minutes, then flip it onto a rack or platter and let it cool completely.

3. Prepare glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cooled cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. The glaze will set eventually- if you'd like to quicken the setting process, just place it into the refrigerator for a bit.


*Might be nice to chop a bunch of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and swirl those into the cake instead of the chocolate chips. Then you can add chunks on top as well!

*My oven has a tendency to brown things pretty quickly, so I baked this cake on the very bottom rack and only covered it for the last 20 minutes to prevent over-browning.
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