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Tuesday
Feb152011

How to make candied lemon slices

Did you know that lemons in their entirety, peels and all, can be edible? With a little bit of cooking magic, lemons (or any citrus fruit, for that matter) turn into candy. And beautiful decorations for baked goods!

Start out with 3 large lemons because, unless you are very adept at using a mandoline or unless you are an expert at cutting consistently uniform slices with a knife, you will want to leave room for error. I used my mandoline to cut my lemon slices and I still had a culling rate of about 30-35%.

When you have a dozen or so lovely, deseeded lemon slices (again, this same process can apply to any type of citrus fruit), bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. While you are waiting for your water to boil, prepare a bath of ice water in a large baking dish.

Blanch the lemon slices in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Handle the slices gently.

Carefully drain the lemon slices and plunge them into your prepared ice bath. Let them sit for a minute or so in the ice water. Carefully remove them.

Combine the following ingredients in a large saucepan:

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer and add the lemon slices in a single layer.

Let the lemon slices simmer (no boiling) for 1 hour.

Remove the slices from the syrup and set them on a cooling rack over a stack of paper towels. It will take a good chunk of time for them to dry completely (sometimes as long as 12-24 hours), so plan ahead if you intend to use them for decorating baked goods.

Or, just dip them into chocolate and eat them like candy!

Tuesday
Feb152011

Bloggy Day & another contest!

I don't think either Ebby or I took a single non-food-related photo on our Bloggy Cooking Day this past Saturday. We cooked and baked an insane amount of treats and had more than a dozen women over to help us eat everything. It was a huge success and a ton of fun! We will definitely do another one of these soon (with my gracious husband's permission, of course). And we will get all of our Bloggy Day recipes posted, but it might take us a few weeks. Chantal and Joan, your appetizer recipes turned out amazing!

Now for another contest!

This one will be super easy. Leave a comment on this post, saying anything at all, and we will pick two random commenters as the winners (using random.org). Please include your blog address if you would like for us to provide a link when we announce the winners.

You can thank my sister because she has kindly offered to take care of the prizes for this contest. She will send each of our two winners her favorite scented 22-oz. jar candle from Colonial Candles. Each candle is a $24.99 value.

The contest starts now and ends at midnight on February 20th. Good luck!

Tuesday
Feb152011

Lemon curd

What a sad, sorry name for such a delicious food. Lemon curd? It sounds like a terrible mistake occurred while someone attempted to create cottage cheese. Perhaps lemon juice got into the mixture and it sat in the heat for a few days. But let me tell you, lemon curd is not that. It is far far from that. It is a light, delicious lemon filling that gets misjudged by its name. I know this because I myself misjudged it for years. Now I dream of bathing in it. Perhaps filling a large swimming pool with it and swimming endless laps.

Lemon curd acts as a delicious filling for baked goods, and can also complement a number of other foods. Be creative! Add it to oatmeal, yogurt or toast; use it as a dip for apples or as a pastry filling.

Set aside 2 egg yolks and 2 large eggs.

In a medium bowl, beat the following ingredients with a hand mixer until light and fluffy:

6 tablespoons softened butter

1 cup sugar

Beat in the 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks one at a time. Beat for 1 more minute.

Stir in 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Ok, so maybe this is where the "curd" part of the name comes from. The mixture appears slightly curdled here, but fret not!

Add the mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until it is smooth. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F. This takes about 5 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest.

Once it has cooled, scoop it into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Tuesday
Feb152011

Lemon buttercream frosting

I have a great weakness for frosting. Whether it adorns a cake or a cupcake or a spoon or my finger, I do not care. Consisting mainly of that ingredient I love so much called sugar, it is one of the foods I have a very hard time resisting. This lemon buttercream frosting is incredibly light and delicious. It went great with the three-layer lemon cake I recently made, and it would be a good topping for a number of other baked goods, as well.

In a medium bowl, beat the following ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy:

1 cup softened butter

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Add 3 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar in batches and beat until light and fluffy. Add 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and beat for 1 more minute.

Don't allow your three-year-old to try a sample or you will risk losing half the batch.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Feb092011

Double chocolate brownie cakes

This is Week #6 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010

Although I do adore chocolate, there are a handful of foods I place before it on my Foods I Love list. I rarely crave chocolate, but if it is set before me I will not turn it down. There are only a few chocolatey treats that make my stomach rumble just by thinking about them. Chocolate caramel brownies are one, Twix bars are another, but that is basically it. So when I set out to make this recipe, I thought, Eh, I'll be able to resist them, no problem!

Sooo I was kinda wrong about that. Once I sunk my teeth in for my "test bite," I knew I was in trouble. These little "cakes" are perfectly delicious. They are rich, but not too rich. They are just the right kind of chocolatey gooey-ness.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 8 cups in a standard-size muffin pan.

In a small saucepan, melt 1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 ounce of chopped milk chocolate (or milk chocolate chips) and whisk until it is melted. Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together:

3 tablespoons cake flour

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, add:

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

Using a handheld mixer, beat together until pale and thick, about 5 minutes.

Beat in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Beat in the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the dry ingredients in 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Stir in 4 ounces of additional chopped milk chocolate (or milk chocolate chips).

The mixture will be a bit chunky.

Spoon the batter into 8 muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and springy.

Let the cakes cool and turn them out onto a wire rack. Serve warm, with ice cream. Mmmmmmmmm.

Click here for a printable recipe!