Monday, October 26, 2009

One order of sunshine, coming right up!


This month of October has been a rainy and dreary one. Thanks to all the rain, we have had some nice, cool autumn days. Although I haven’t posted in almost a month, it has been a busy month for baking and photo projects. The fall weather has made me want to bake more than ever, so I will have several recipes to share in the coming weeks.

Since the sunshine has left us for the time being, I have found a dessert that is as close to sunshine as you can get without getting your retinas burned. It has a bright, lemony flavor, and uses one of my favorite ingredients, cream cheese. The recipe can be found here, but I added my own lemon twist by adding a fancy little blob of lemon buttercream and lovingly grated lemon zest on top. I can’t leave well enough alone!

Recipe for Lemon Chess Squares (from Proctor Silex website):

1 pkg. (18 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 box (1 lb.) confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine dry cake mix, 1 egg and butter using electric beater. Mix until combined into a dough. Pat dough into ungreased 9x13-inch pan.

With same mixing bowl and same beaters (not necessary to wash), beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Add eggs and extracts, and beat until well blended.

Pour this batter over top of dough in pan.

Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool, then cut into bars.

For Lemon Buttercream:

1 stick softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 Tbsp. of Lemon Curd (optional) - This can be found in jars in the baking section of your supermarket. I used "Dickinson's" brand.

Whip butter and sugar together. Add extracts and lemon curd. If too thick, you can add milk to thin out. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. I made mine thick enough to pipe with a piping tip.

Garnish with grated lemon zest.

You can also experiment with other cake mixes and extracts/flavorings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BooTEAful Thai Tea


I've found the perfect tea for this year's Halloween festivities. This tea is a lovely shade of pumpkin orange, ideal for the autumn season. It's a creamy, vanilla-flavored tea that can be made as sweet or rich as you like it. It is served at any Thai restaurant, but I've also seen it on the menu at a few Vietnamese restaurants. I found my tea mix at a local Asian supermarket. actually carries it if it's not locally available to you.

Here's my recipe:
(Makes 2 servings)

2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Thai Tea mix
Half and Half, Regular Milk, Evaporated Milk, or Sweetened Condensed Milk (to suit your taste)

(You'll also need some way of straining the leaves. I used a tea sock, which is also found at the Asian market ( carries it as well). You could also use some fine cheesecloth or tea towel to strain.)

Add sugar to water and bring to boil to fully dissolve sugar. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat and add the tea mixture. Allow tea to steep for 3 - 5 minutes.
Strain leaves with the tea sock (pictured here). Add ice and milk or cream to taste.

Photos above show Thai tea mix and the tea sock used to strain the tea particles from water.

Photos above show the tea sock in action. After tea leaves are removed, tea is ready to pour into a tall glass filled with ice.