Lemon Curd Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Lemon Curd Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Lemon lovers rejoice!
A lemon curd tart is a rich sweet and tangy curd nestled inside a flaky buttery crust.
Topped with
fresh whipped cream, this dessert is absolute perfection!

What is a Lemon Curd Tart?

A lemon curd tart, also known as tarte au citron, is a classic French dessert. In the 19th century, this dessert was served to the King of France as a symbol of wealth and goodness. Today, this tart is made all over the world. It’s a delicious change of pace from chocolate tarts. It is light and refreshing, with a pop of sour. I love this dessert in the spring in summer. However, it tastes great all year long.

Looking for a perfect meal? This lemon curd tart pairs perfectly with my strawberry, dried apricot, and pistachio salad recipe. It’s the perfect light and fruity combination for spring or hot summer days. If you make this tart, be sure to post a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook. I am always so excited to see how your bakes turn out!

Three lemons and the a bowl of lemon zest on a black background.

Lemon Curd Tart Ingredients

The great thing about a lemon curd tart, you only need eight ingredients, and most of them you probably already have! Here is a quick rundown of the ingredients you will need.

  • Flour – I use all-purpose flour for the tart crust. Flour is the foundation of your tart.
  • Butter – I recommend using unsalted butter and, if you can, European-style butter. The European butter has a higher fat content and is richer in flavor than the American version. This butter will make your recipe pop!
  • Salt – Preferably, use coarse salt instead of table salt.
  • Vinegar – Use just a couple of tablespoons when making the crust. Vinegar stops the gluten from forming and results in a flaky crust.
  • Water – Always use cold water when making pastry.
  • Sugar – Stick with standard granulated sugar.
  • Heavy Cream – Gives the curd a rich flavor.
  • Lemons – I recommend Meyer lemons if they are in season. If not, I use 4 – 6 standard lemons.
A picture representation of the ingrinets needed to make the lemon tart (flour, eggs, egg yolks, lemons, salt, sugar, heavy cream and butter).

How to Make The Tart Crust

When it comes to crust, your first step is to decide if you will make a crust or if you are going to buy a pre-made crust. The decision will come down to time and personal preference. If you are using a store bought crust, skip this section and go to how to make the lemon curd section.

If this is your first homemade pie crust, I recommend reading my post a perfect pie crust recipe. In that post, I walk you through the steps of making your first pie crust.

This recipe is for two 9-inch tart pan/crust. A standard 9-inch pie plate will work as well. To make the crust, you will need:

  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces butter (cold and diced)
  • 1/2 cup (4.5 oz) cold water
  • 3 teaspoons (.5 oz) vinegar

Step One: In a medium or large sized bowl, use a whisk to evenly distribute the flour (1.5 cups/12 oz) and salt (1 teaspoon).

Step Two: Take the butter (8 ounces) and cube it into small pieces. Then using your fingers, combine the butter into the flour. Always use your fingertips. This ensures as little contact as possible and helps keep the butter from melting. The result should look rough like bread crumbs, some large and some small. But nothing fully combined like bread dough.

Step Three: Combine the water and vinegar. Then slowly drizzle about 1/2 of the water-vinegar combination and gently work the dough. Continue to add water a little at a time. You might not need all of the water, and that is ok. The dough is ready when it is in a cohesive but rough-looking ball.

Step Four: Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disk and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or up to three days.

Step Five: Roll the dough to a 12 inch circle. Use your rolling pin to go over the top of the baking dish to create a clean cut.

Step Six: Dock your pie crust by taking your fork and piercing the dough all over, including the sides. Then place your pie crust in the freezer for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step Seven: Once the oven is heated and the shell is ready to come out of the freezer, you are almost ready. The next step is to line the surface with parchment paper and then fill it with pie weights. You can purchase pie weights at a baking store or use beans, rice, or lentils. I have an old set of kidney beans that I use and reuse.

Step Eight: Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes with the beans (note, if using a tart pan, place the tart pan on a baking sheet). Remove the beans and paper and continuing baking until the crust is just turning golden, about another 15 – 20 minutes. However, keep a close on the crust as baking times vary. Once baked, allow at least thirty minutes to cool before filling.

How to Make Lemon Curd

A lemon curd tart is filled with a rich, smooth and tangy lemon curd. Lemon curds are so easy to make and are busting with flavor. The curd comes together in only ten minutes. Watch it closely towards the end, as the thickening happens quickly.

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 lemon zests
  • 3/4 cup butter, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Step One: Start by preheating the oven to 350°F

Step Two: In a saucepan over low to medium heat, whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and zest together. Add the butter slices and whisk until the mixture thickens about ten minutes. Note that the thickening all seems to happen in the final 90 seconds. You will want to watch the curd closely so that it is not overcooked.

Step Three: Pour the lemon curd into the tart shell and bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Once done, allow the tart to cool.

Step Four: Right before serving, dust with confectioners sugar and top with whipped cream.

1
Start with your tart shell, either homemade or store bought.
2
Place a heat proof bowl over hot water and whisk together 4 eggs, 4 egg yolks, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup fresh lemon juice and the zest of two lemons.
3
Add 3/4 cup of sliced butter and whisk.
4
Continue to whisk until the curd thickens and you see traces (about 10 minutes)
5
Pour the curd into the tart shell. Bake at 350f for 6-8 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
6
Dust the top with confectioners sugar. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Visit my site for an ingredient list and instructions. Life on Westerly Creek (lifeonwesterlycreek.com/lemon-tart)
Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.


Why is Your Lemon Curd Tart Orange?

Instead of yellow, my tart looks orange because of the eggs I use, organic and free-range. The sunlight and natural diet result in a healthier chicken. The healthier chicken then lays a richer egg, which you can see in the orange yolk color. There are many articles on this, and I recommend this one. It’s short and sweet.

A slice of lemon tart with a bite on a fork.  Both the slice and the bite have whipped cream and powdered sugar on top.

How to Store

Once baked, you can refrigerate the lemon tart for up to three days in the refrigerator. Wrap tightly in cling wrap before storing. However, wait to top with confectioner’s sugar and whipped cream until serving. I do not recommend storing this tart in the freezer.

Great British Baking Show Bake
Season 2, Episode 2, Technical Challenge – Tarte au Citron

In this bake, participants baked a Tarte au Citron. I have lots of experience making lemon curd. However, I had never heard of a lemon tart before. This dessert is very straightforward, consisting of a crust and curd.

I have lots of practice with curd; however, I am relatively new to crusts. My only real struggle with the dough was adjusting to the higher altitude in Denver. It took a few tries, and the solution was simple, add more water. It was a learning experience and worth the extra effort.

GBBO Count: 22 down, 258 to go!

Lemon Curd Tart, entire tart with lemons

Lemon Curd Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Lemon lovers rejoice!  A lemon curd tart is a sweet and tangy curd nestled inside a flaky buttery crust.  Topped with fresh whipped cream, this dessert is absolute perfection!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Resting Time 2 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Tart pan or pie dish
  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk

Ingredients
  

Tart Crust

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces butter, cold and diced
  • 1/2 cup water, cold
  • 3 teaspoons vinegar

Lemon Curd

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons
  • 3/4 cup butter, sliced

Instructions
 

Tart Crust

  •  In a medium or large-sized bowl, use a whisk to evenly distribute the flour (1.5 cups/12 oz) and salt (1 teaspoon). 
  • Using your fingers, combine 8 ounces of butter into the flour. The butter should remind in pea-sized chunks and resemble bread crumbs.
  • Combine the water and vinegar. Then slowly drizzle about 1/2 of the water-vinegar combination and gently work the dough. Continue to add water a little at a time. You might not need all of the water, and that is ok. The dough is ready when it is in a cohesive but rough-looking ball. 
  • Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disk and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or up to three days. 
  • Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Use your rolling pin to go over the top of the baking dish to create a clean cut. 
  • Using your fork, prick the pie crust all over, including the sides.
  • Place your pie crust in the freezer for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • The next step is to line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes with the beans. Remove the beans and paper and continuing baking until the crust is just turning golden, about another 15 – 20 minutes.
    Keep a close on the crust as baking times vary.
  • Once baked, allow at least thirty minutes to cool before filling. 

Lemon Curd

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F 
  • In a sauce pan over low to medium heat, whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and zest together.
  • Add the butter slices and whisk until the mixture thickens about ten minutes.
  • Pour the lemon curd into the tart shell and bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Allow the tart to cool then store the tart in the refrigerator for two hours before serving. 
  • When ready to serve, dust with confectioner's sugar and top with fresh whipped cream

Video

Lemon Curd Tart (Tarte au Citron) by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

Notes

Recipe Notes:
If possible, use European-style butter. The European butter has a higher fat content and is richer in flavor than the American version. This butter will make your curd pop with richness.
Lemon curd can be tough to judge when it’s ready. The best way is to let the curd coat the back of a spoon. Then draw a line with your finger down the middle of the spoon. If the line stay s without dripping, the curd is ready.
This dessert is very tart.  I recommend topping it with whipped cream to balance out the flavors. 
If you made this dessert and liked it, please rate it and comment.  You can also post it to my Instagram and/or Facebook pages.
Keyword Lemon Curd Tart, Tarte au Citron
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

A Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A pie crust recipe should be easy to make and simple to understand. The perfect pie crust should also be buttery and full of flavor. This recipe has all of that and so much more. If you want easy, jump right to the recipe. However, if you want to learn the ins and outs of making a pie crust, read my entire post or just the sections you feel you need. All roads will lead to the same place, a perfect pie crust!

Dough on a pastry mat with a French styled pin in the center.  Dough has just started to be rolled out.

Three Basic Types of Pie Crusts

If you are new to making pie crusts, you are probably confused, and you are not alone. There are actually lots of different crusts, and in America, we call them all pie crust. I won’t even attempt to cover the different types of crusts. However, I will narrow it down to the top three with a few notable pastries that are sometimes used as a pie crust.

CrustFlourFatLiquidSaltSugarEggUses/Characteristics
Basic Crust (Pâte Brisée)YesButterWaterYesNoNoSweet Pies
Savory Pies
Very versatile crust
Basic Sweet Crust (Pâte Sucrée)YesButterWaterYesYesYes (yolk)Sweet Tarts
Can be used with sweet and savory pies
Crumbly crust
Rich Shortcrust (Pâte sablée)Short Bread
or Cookie
ButterNoYesYesNoDesert Pastry
Cookie/Graham Cracker Crust

Those are the three basic crusts. Some additional pastries used as crusts include:

  • Puff pastry
  • Ruff puff pastry
  • Phyllo dough.

    I will save all of those for another day.

Pie Crust Recipe Ingredients

To make a perfect pie crust, I am using the basic pie crust recipe (Pâte Brisée). This crust works perfectly for 80% of the crusts made in American homes. The other 20% are rich shortcrust, aka cookie crusts (like the one used here or here).

The ingredients will yield two crusts rolled into a 9-inch pan. This can make two tarts, quiches, etc. This recipe will also make one double (top and bottom) crusted pie.

  • 1.5 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces butter (cold and diced)
  • 1/2 cup (4.5 oz) cold water
  • 3 teaspoons (.5 oz) vinegar

Pie Crust Recipe Ingredient Notes

Each ingredient in this recipe is necessary to create a rich buttery dough. For the best result, chose each ingredient carefully. Quality matters!

  • Flour – Is the structure of a pie crust. I stick with all-purpose flour. King Arthur’s brand is generally regarded as the best option. (I love their site as well. It has tons of great resources under the learn tab!)
  • Butter – Butter matters! For the best result, always follow these three rules.
    • Rule #1 – Always use unsalted butter. This allows you, the baker, control over how much salt is in your recipe.
    • Rule #2 – Always (if you can afford it) buy European butter. This butter is richer and has a higher fat content. The result is a flavor that can only be achieved using European butter.
    • Rule #3 – When making a crust, always use cold butter. Cold butter is needed to achieve the flakiness in pies that you want. I am so dedicated to this rule that I place it back in the refrigerator once I cut my butter before I use it.
  • Salt – I recommend coarse salt. The flavor disperses perfectly throughout the crust and gives little pops of flavor.
  • Water (cold) – Water is the binding ingredient for this dough. Always use ice water. I fill a glass full of water and then place a couple of ice cubes in it. I then place it in my refrigerator until it is time to add it to the dough. When it’s time, I strain just the water into a measuring cup. (Yes, to make a good pie crust, you really have to be committed to cold butter and cold water!)
  • Vinegar – Is the secret ingredient to a perfect pie dough! By adding vinegar, you stop the formation of gluten, which results in a soft dough.

Vegan modification – To make this pie crust vegan, swap out regular butter for vegan butter/ vegan shortening combination at a 1:1 ratio. (equal parts vegan butter and vegan shortening to the one part butter)

High altitude modification – For high-altitude adjustments, prepare additional cold water than the recipe calls for. As you work the dough, continue to drizzle additional cold water on top of your dough in increments. When your dough comes together easily without crumbling, the dough is ready. If the dough is dry in sports or breaks apart easily, you will need to add some more water.

A Perfect Pie Crust Recipe (Voice Instructions) by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

How to mix pie crust ingredients

Step One: Add the salt to the flour and mix well with a whisk. Your goal here is to even distribute the salt throughout the flour.

Step Two: Combine the butter and the flour. There are a few different methods that you can use here, and they all pretty much work, as long as the butter stays cold and is not over blended. I outlined four methods below. Most bakers will stick with the method they are most comfortable with. For me, it is method two.

  • Method one: Finger Tips – Use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour. Using your fingertips, you are transferring as little heat from your hands as possible to the butter. When you are done, the flour should look like thick breadcrumbs.
  • Method two: Sheeting – This is where you snap the butter and flour between your fingers and create sheets. These sheets are perfect for creating the flaky dough.
  • Method three: Pasty Blender – This is a tool that allows you to cut the butter into the flour in a downward rotating method. Pastry blenders make combining butter and flour easy, although I prefer using method one or two.
  • Method four: Food Processor – This is a popular method because it is easy. Place the flour and the clubbed butter into the food processor and pulse no more than six times. It is also very easy to over blend the butter into the flour resulting in a tough dough.

Step Two: Combine the water and the vinegar before moving on to the next step.

Step Three: Slowly drizzle the 2/3rds of the ice water/vinegar over the butter/flour/salt mixture. Gently work the dough into a combined dough. Note the dough will still be shaggy and should not be shinny like in bread making.

Step Four: Divide the dough in half. Flatten each half into a disk, then wrap in cling wrap. Place the disk in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to three days.

A blind baked crust crust in a tart pan.
Blind Baked Crust in a Tart Pan

How to Select a Rolling Pin

Selecting the right rolling pin is important. There are many different types to choose from, and honestly, they all work. However, as a baker, you will find you will have one go-to pin. For me, it’s my $4.99 french pin I bought on Amazon. It’s simple, lightweight, and easy to maneuver.

Your first step is to select a rolling pin. I have two, a classic french wooden rolling pin and a marble pin. They both have their pros and cons and at the end of the day, it is really a personal preference.

  • French rolling pin – Are wooden and handleless. These come in two styles: one tapers at the end (traditional french rolling pin)and one that does not tapper (shaker pin). These pins are affordable, easy to maneuver and work great with pie dough. This is my preferred pin every time.
  • American rolling pin – This is a wooden rolling pin with handles. This pin is very versatile but can sometimes be clunky to maneuver.
  • Marble rolling pin – This is a heavy pin with handles. Many bakers prefer this pin type due to its weight and cold marble. This is a great pin when working with puff pastry or stiff dough.
Rolled out dough on a pastry mat with  two rolling pins next to the dough, a wooden pin and a marble pin.

How to Roll a Pie Crust

Once your dough has been made and rested, it is time to roll out the crust. For me, this is the fun part.

Start with removing the dough from the refrigerator. Select a flat work surface. Some people like cold stone countertops. However, I prefer a pastry mat. The mat helps me roll the dough to the correct size. Lightly flour your work surface and keep a small bowl of flour nearby if you need more. Working from the center of the dough, roll outwards. Continue to work the dough in all directions until you reach the desired size.

If the dough starts to warm and the butter is melting, place it on a baking sheet and refrigerate it for ten minutes. Once the dough is cold, continue rolling.

Dough in a flat circle, wrapped in cling wrap, next to a tart pan and French style rolling pin.
Dough out of the refrigerator

How to Place a Pie Crust

When transferring a pie crust to the pan, it is important to do this in one move. This step ensures the dough stays in one long sheet. There are two basic methods, using your rolling pin or folding the dough into quarters.

Rolling pin method: Move your rolling pin to the end of the dough. Gently roll the pin backward, wrapping the dough around your pin. Then lift the dough and move it to your baking dish. Once in your baking dish, use your fingers to shape the dough into place. Once placed, roll over the top of the dough with your rolling pin to remove the extra dough.

Quarter method: Once you have rolled the dough out, gently fold it into a semi-circle and fold it by half again. Once folded, pick up the dough and place it in the center of your baking dish. Unfold the dough and press it into shape. Once placed, roll over the top of the dough with your rolling pin to remove the extra dough.

Once the pie crust is in place, simply roll over the top of the crust with your pin. This will give you a clean, smooth edge.

How to Dock a Pie Crust

Once the pie dough is in place, you will need to dock (sometimes called pricking) the dough. This step is critical to allow the steam to escape when baking. If the steam cannot escape, the dough will bubble up and crack under the weight of your fillings.

To dock a pie crust, simply prick the pie crust with a fork all over, including the sides. I find this step incredibly gratifying.

Pie crust in a tart pan that has been docked all over, including the sides. The fork resting on top of the pan with the pin and extra dough near by.

Blind Baking

Baking a pie can go one of two ways. One, you fill the pastry with the desired filling and bake. This type of baking is standard with a fruit pie where the crust and the filling all bake together. The other type is called blind baking. In a blind bake, you need the bake the crust before filling it. Blind baking is typical with custards, quiche, and even pumpkin pie.

In instances where you need a partially or fully baked crust, you will blind bake the crust. Blind baking involves placing weights between the dough and pan to keep the dough from puffing up. Start by lining the dough with parchment paper or tin foil. Then fill the lining with weights. You can purchase pie weights. However, I recommend saving your money and using those old beans, rice, or lentils you never got around to cooking.

After about 15 – 20 minutes of baking the shell with the weights, pull the pie out of the oven and remove the weights. Then, continue to cook the shell for another 15 – 20 minutes.

Tart pan lined with parchment paper and filled with beans
Tart pan lined with parchment paper and filled with beans

Storing

This recipe makes two 9-inch pie or tart crusts. In some instances, you might be using all the dough right away. However, you might want to save the other half. Here are a couple of options to store your dough and your crust.

Dough

  • Refrigerate – If you’re going to use your pie dough in the next few days, you can wrap it in cling wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Freeze – If you are using your pie dough later, you can wrap tightly in cling wrap and place it in a zipped-up freezer bag inside the freezer for up to six months.

Crust

  • Refrigerate – If you are going to use your crust in the next few days, wrap it tightly in cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Your crust can be stored this way for up to three days.
  • Freeze – If you are going to save your crust for longer than three days, double wrap it tightly in cling wrap and store it in the freezer. You can store your crust this way for one month.

Did you make a crust using this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out!

Write a comment below, give a rating or post a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tag me!

A Pie Crust Recipe, pressing the dough into place

A Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A pie crust recipe that is super simple! Use it when baking pies, tarts, quiche, etc. This post has details or jump right to the recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Resting time 1 hr
Course Dessert, Pastry
Cuisine American, English, French
Servings 2 crusts

Equipment

  • Rolling Pin
  • Medium bowl
  • Pie or tart pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces butter (cold and diced)
  • 1/2 cup water (cold)
  • 3 teaspoons vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Using a whisk, mix 1.5 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Using just your fingertips, mix 8 ounces of butter into the flour/salt combination. The final result should look like breadcrumbs. Use caution not to overmix.
  • Combine the water and vinegar and then drizzle half over the flour. Continue to add the water in small increments until the dough looks shaggy.
    **You might not use all of the water or you might need more water depending on your climate. The key here is to add just enough so that the dough begins to come together.
  • Flatten the dough into a disk and then wrap in cling wrap. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour and up to three days.
  • Once the dough has rested, divide it in half.
  • Roll the dough out to 1/8 thickness and the desired size.
  • Place the dough in the baking dish and press it into place. Use your rolling pin to go over the top of the dough. Then dock the dough with your fork to create air vents.
  • Blind Bake: If you need a pre-baked shell you will want to do a blind bake. To do this press the dough into the desired shell. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Dock the dough. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover the shell with parchment paper or tin foil. Fill with rice, lentils, or dried beans. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and continuing baking until the crust is just turning golden.

Video

A Perfect Pie Crust Recipe by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

Notes

See the blog post for detailed instructions on every step of creating a perfect pie crust. 
Keyword Butter Dough, dough, Pastry, Pie, Tart
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

  • Freeze – If you are using your pie crust later, you can wrap tightly in cling wrap and place it in a zipped-up freezer bag inside the freezer for up to one month.
  • Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

    Rich dark chocolate banana cream pie is where flavor and texture meet to form a perfect decadent relationship.
    This is dessert is delicious — and super easy to make!

    Is there anything better than two amazing ingredients combing into one dessert? It’s like the superhero of desserts. Dramatic? Maybe. It’s just chocolate banana cream pie is so delicious I got super excited trying to describe it.

    Last week my sister-in-law commented on how much she loves Banana Cream Pie. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to adapt my banana cream pie recipe and make a rich dark chocolate version. I loved this so much that instead of sharing the leftovers, I kept them all for myself.

    If you make this recipe let me know how it turns out, either in a comment or tag me on Facebook or Instagram. I always love to hear/see how my recipes turn out.

    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Slice
    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Slice

    Specific Ingredient Notes for Making Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

    Chocolate Graham Crackers – to make this pie as chocolaty as possible, I used chocolate graham crackers. If you feel that is too much chocolate, substitute at a 1:1 ratio for regular graham crackers or vanilla wafers. If you want more chocolate (I mean, who doesn’t?) I recommend using Oreo’s with the filling removed.

    Unsalted Butter – When baking always use unsalted butter. By using unsalted butter you are able to control how much salt is in your recipe. Also, if possible, I recommend using cultured or European butter. This type of butter is rich and will make the flavor in your recipes pop.

    Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers – I recommend using dark chocolate melting wafers, particularly Ghirardelli. I find that Ghirardelli melts easily and has a high sugar content that tastes great.

    Rum – I use very little rum and it add a slight edge. However this ingredient can be omitted and the recipe will still taste great.

    Rich Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Pudding Ingredients.  Egg yolks, whole milk, banana's, dark chocolate wafers, sugar, rum and corn starch

    Tips for Making BCP

    Making banana cream pie is actually very easy to make. The hands-on work is about 15 minutes. However, the setting time is about two hours (an hour for the crust and an hour for the pudding.) If you choose to top the pie with whipped cream, add another ten minutes to make and pipe.

    To make the crust, you will want to grind down the chocolate graham crackers to a fine crumb. To achieve the finest crumb, I recommend using a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, you can achieve a fine crumb by placing the crackers in a freezer bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Just make sure you remove the air from the bag first.

    The filling for banana cream pie is actually a pudding. When making the pudding, you will cook the ingredients on the stovetop for about five minutes on medium heat before the pudding begins to boil. During this time, continuously whisk the pudding. As the pudding thickens, it will begin to boil. This stage happens very quickly, and you will want to be ready to remove the pudding from the heat immediately at a boil.

    There are many different ways to separate egg yolks and whites. I use only one method, and I swear by it, separate eggs using your hands! I crack the egg and slightly separate my fingers. The egg whites will naturally fall between my fingers. If there is a little egg white left, I pull it down. This method provides the cleanest separation and will give you picture-perfect yolks (see picture above).

    Visual Steps

    1
    Crust: Using a food processor, break down chocolate graham crackers into a fine crumb.
    2
    Add a pinch of salt and pulse. Add 7 tablespoons of melted butter and pulse again to combine.
    3
    Using your fingers, press the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch tart pan. Place in the freezer for one hour to set.
    4
    Once crust is set, slice two bananas into 1/4 slices and arrange in bottom of the crust.
    5
    Pudding: In a medium saucepan combine whole milk, sugar, corn starch and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth.
    6
    Add egg yolks and continually whisk until the mixture becomes thick (about 5 minutes ). Then, remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until smooth.
    7
    Pour the pudding over the bananas. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to set.
    8
    Whipped cream: Combine heavy cream, clear vanilla extract and confectioners sugar. Mix until you see traces in the cream. (Taste testing encouraged)
    9
    Fill a piping bag with the whipped cream and arrange on pie as desired.
    10
    Slice and enjoy!
    For full directions and ingredient list visit Life on Westerly Creek (https://lifeonwesterlycreek.com)
    Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Storing

    Banana cream pie stores very easily. However, the bananas do brown after a short time in the refrigerator. I recommend if you are making this pie the day before, add the bananas on top of the pie at the last minute for the freshest look.

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 2, Episode 5, Signature – Pies


    Bakers were asked to make a family pie in this episode. I honestly had no idea what a family pie was, and I had to look it up. I am still amazed that families have signature meat pies passed down from generation to generation. It might be because I am American, but that is just nothing I have ever heard of.

    Soooooo….. Hear me out on this one….. My mom was a lover of all things sweets. She literally woke up with doughnuts, had a Hershey bar for lunch, followed by a Blizzard for dinner. I am seriously not joking. My mom had the greatest sweet tooth of all time and somehow remained skinny her entire life (so unfair).

    Given those facts, I think it’s only fair that I count a rich dark chocolate banana cream pie as a family pie. It is truly the only type of pie my mom would have made (or really bought at Marie Calendars).

    Let me know in the comments if you approve or object to counting this bake as a family pie.

    GBBO Count: 21 down, 259 to go!

    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie tip right side 2/3 of the pie

    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

    Rich dark chocolate banana cream pie is where flavor and texture meet to form a perfect decadent relationship.  This is dessert is delicious — and super easy to make!
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Cook Time 10 mins
    Setting Time 2 hrs
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 8 people

    Equipment

    • 9-inch pie plate or tart pan
    • Food Processor
    • Medium saucepan

    Ingredients
      

    Crust

    • 11 ounces chocolate graham crackers
    • 7 tablespoons butter (melted)
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 large bananas, 1/4 inch thick slices

    Pudding

    • 7 ounces chocolate
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup corn starch
    • 4 large egg yokes
    • 1 tablespoon dark or amber rum

    Whipped Cream and Banana Topping

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (confectioners)
    • 1 banana, 1/4 inch thick slices

    Instructions
     

    Crust

    • Place the 11 ounces of chocolate graham crackers and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Using long pulses, ground the crackers into a fine crumb.
    • Melt 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter and add to the graham cracker/salt mix. Pulse everything together to fully incorporate the butter.
    • Transfer the crumbs to the pie dish or tart pan. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and sides. Place the pie dish or tart pan into the freezer to set. This should take an hour.
    • After the crust is set and before you start the pudding, cut the bananas into equal-sized slices, about a ¼ inch thick. Arrange a layer of banana's along the bottom of the crust.

    Pudding

    • Place the 7 ounces of dark chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set it aside.
    • In a saucepan over medium heat whisk together the 2 cups of whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and a pinch of salt.
    • Continue whisking and add the four egg yolks one at a time. Whisk for three minutes. Then add 2 tablespoons of cold butter and one tablespoon of rum. Continue to whisk until the pudding boils and is very thick, about 5 minutes. Quickly remove the pan from heat once it thickens.
    • Pour pudding over the 7 ounces dark chocolate and whisk to incorporate.
    • Pour the chocolate pudding into the graham cracker pie shell. Refrigerate to firm up, about 30 minutes.

    Whipped Cream

    • Whip one cup of heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar and 1 teaspoon of clear vanilla extract until it forms soft peaks. Spoon or pipe on top of the banana cream pie.
    • Slice one banana into 1/4 thick slices. Arrange on top. (Optional)

    Video

    Rich Dark Chocolate Banana Cream Pie by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Notes

    Recipe notes:
    • I added an extra tablespoon of butter to the crust because I live in a very dry climate.  If you live in a moist climate you can reduce by one full tablespoon. 
    • When making the pudding continuously stir to avoid burining. 
    • The pudding begins to boil very quickly.  Be prepared to remove it from the heat right away. 
    • When making the whipped cream I used confectioners sugar to help the cream hold its shape.  If you do not have confectioners sugar, you can also use regular sugar. 
    Keyword Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate, dark chocolate, Dessert, Pudding, Retro
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Sunday Morning Cookie (Milk Bar Style)

    Sunday Morning Cookie (Milk Bar Style)

    If cozy Sunday mornings conjure up thoughts of espresso, cinnamon, toasted sugar, and chocolate chips then the Sunday Morning Cookie is you!

    Cozy Sunday mornings are a thing of magic. Whether it’s breakfast in bed, French toast in PJ’s, or brunch with family and friends, I think we can all agree Sunday mornings are magic. It’s the smell of French toast, cinnamon, coffee, and sometimes chocolate that makes me think of a cozy Sunday morning. It’s the other six days of the week that make me long for Sunday. But if I smell cinnamon, in my heart I am back on Sunday. My goal with designing this cookie was to capture the magic of cozy Sunday mornings.

    As soon as you bite into this Sunday morning cookie, you will taste espresso and cinnamon, quickly followed by toasted sugar and chocolate chips. There is a sight cereal crunch giving this cookie texture and sweetness.

    We loved these cookies so much that we ate 20 over the course of three days. Once we were done we decided to detox and ate my favorite vegan salad, Strawberry, Dried Apricots, and Pistachios Salad (Spring Mix Salad Recipe).

    Stack of seven Sunday morning cookies with espresso chips and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal scattered.
    Sunday Morning Cookie Stack

    Sunday Morning Cookie Origins

    The inspiration from this cookie comes from the Corn Flake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie sold by Milk Bar. The Sunday Morning Cookie is based on the same technique used in the Cork Flake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie (that’s a mouthful). I have to admit, this technique is mind-blowing good!

    Techniques to Make your Cookies Great

    Making this cookie follows the same technique as most cookies, but with a couple of extra steps (or lack of). These techniques take this cookie from good to great and are worth the extra work.

    Technique #1 – Cinnamon Toast Crunch -crunch: To give these cookies an extra edge, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal is tossed with milk powder, cinnamon (yep, I added more), sugar and butter. The mixture is then baked for 20 minutes. By following this step, you are creating a crunch texture and intensifying the flavor within your cookie. This step might seem too extra, but trust me, it is worth it!

    Technique #2 – Creaming butter and sugar for 10 minutes: When making cookies it is important to cream the butter using a stand-up mixer and sugar for 2-3 minutes, then add the liquid (egg and vanilla extract) and continue creaming for another 6-7 minutes. This step is key to creating a lighter cookie. Because the Sunday morning cookie is heavy in flavor, this step is very important for the overall texture of the cookie.

    Technique #3 – Mix the dry ingredient until just barely mixed: This technique is true for all types of baked goods. By just barely mixing the flour you are restricting the stretching of gluten in the flour. Something we all want (right?)

    Sunday Morning Cookie, two cookies stacked and one tipped on the side.
    Sunday Morning Cookie Close Up

    Specific Ingredient Notes

    Cinnamon Toast Crunch – This cereal contains the Sunday morning flavors I wanted to capture within this cookie recipe.

    Espresso Chips – These chips have a strong espresso flavor. I love it, however, it might be too much for some. If that is the case, increase the number of grams of mini chocolate chips and reduce espresso chips in equal portions.

    Mini Chocolate Chips – I strongly recommend using mini chips to ensure equal distribution of chips within the batter. These chips will help to sweeten and offset the bitterness in the espresso chips.

    Unsalted Butter – Two things about butter and baking…. 1. Always use unsalted butter. This will allow you to control how much salt is in your recipe. 2. Use cultured, also known as European, butter if possible. This butter is slightly more expensive, however, it adds a richness to your bakes that is unmistakable.

    Non-Fat Dry Milk – Milk powder or powdered milk is milk in its most concentrated form. This powder allows you to add all the extra flavor, without changing the liquid content in a cookie. 

    • This excerpt from Epicuirous sums up why using non-fat dry milk makes a BIG difference…. Chef Christina Tosi, author of Momofuku Milk Bar and Milk Bar: Kids Only, says she can’t think of a dessert that milk powder wouldn’t improve. “Milk powder has an amazing way of adding a terrific baseline flavor,” she explains. “It can make ice creams milkier, denser, silkier—and cookies chewier.” It’s the sort of “secret weapon ingredient” that doesn’t taste like anything special straight out of the container, but works magic when it’s included in a recipe. Tosi says you can experiment, adding a tablespoon of milk powder to your dry ingredients in any baking project: “It just makes things taste better.”
    Cinnamon Toast Crunch - crunch ingredients. A bowl of cinnamon toast crunch, butter, salt, cinnamon and non-fat dry milk
    Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Crunch Ingredients
    Cookie dough batter ingredients.  Sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, espresso chips, mini chocolate chips and egg
    Cookie Dough Batter Ingredients

    Sunday Morning Cookie Video

    Sunday Morning Cookie (Milk Bar style) by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Storage

    There are a couple of different ways to store this cookie and its components. The first is the crunch, the dough, and then the baked cookie.

    1. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch.- Crunch should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one week or the refrigerator or freezer for one month. 
    2. The cookie dough should be stored in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for three days or in your freezer for one month. If you freeze the cookie dough, roll the cookie dough into balls and store the balls in a sealed ziplock bag. Place that bag in an air-tight container in your freezer. When you’re ready to bake, place the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator overnight to bring to the correct temperature before baking.
    3. Baked cookies stay fresh at room temperature in an air-tight container for five days. If you want to freeze the cookies, place them in an air-tight container and store them for up to one month. (Warning, we tried that at our house and we ate them frozen. They are that good.)
    Sunday Morning Cookie up close with a cup of coffee off to the side.
    Sunday Morning Cookie and Coffee



    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 2, Episode 4, Signature – Biscuits

    If you’re reading this and wondering why I am crediting a cookie bake as a biscuit bake, it is because a biscuit in England is a cookie in America. To make things more confusing a scone in England is a biscuit in America. But we all agree that cake is cake.

    About this bake: At the start of April, I began taking a Milk Bar baking class. My first assignment was a cookie. To create this cookie the class focused on creating a “flavor story”. The story can be about a day, date, or period in time and associated flavors. I wanted to capture Sunday morning because I have always loved brunch or breakfast in bed. In this cookie, I set out to create those flavors.

    What I loved/learned about this bake: Through the class, I feel like I grew and stretched myself to expand my options. I am so excited about how this cookie turned out because it is unlike any other cookie I have ever had.

    GBBO Count: 20 down, 260 to go!


    Sunday Morning Cookie stack of seven cookies

    Sunday Morning Cookie

    If cozy Sunday mornings conjure up thoughts of espresso, cinnamon, toasted sugar, and chocolate chips then the Sunday Morning Cookie is you! 
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 40 mins
    Cook Time 35 mins
    Course Cookies, Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine American
    Servings 20 Cookies

    Equipment

    • Stand Mixer
    • Baking Sheets
    • Kitchen Scale
    • Small and medium bowls or mixing containers
    • Spatula
    • Parchment paper
    • Cookie Scoup (I used 2 ¾ oz sized for large cookies)

    Ingredients
      

    Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Crunch

    • 130 grams Cinnamon Toast Crunch
    • 30 grams non-fat milk powder
    • 30 grams sugar
    • 3 grams salt (1/3 teaspoon)
    • 100 grams butter

    Cookie Dough Batter

    • 225 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
    • 250 grams sugar
    • 150 grams dark brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 2 grams vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
    • 260 grams all purpose flour
    • 2 grams baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
    • 1.5 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)
    • 5 grams salt (1½ teaspoon)
    • 125 grams mini chocolate chips
    • 75 grams espresso chips

    Instructions
     

    Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Crunch

    • Preheat the oven to 275° F (135° C).
    • Pour the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal into a medium bowl. Using your hands crush the cereal into small pieces (about ½ to ? of the orgional size).
    • Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and stir to evenly mix the ingredients.
    • Melt the butter and evenly coat througout the mix.
    • Spread the mix across a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The final product should be a golden brown and smell buttery.
    • Set aside and allow to fully cool.

    Cookie Dough Batter

    • Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
    • Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a pabble attachment cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
    • Add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat on high for 7 to 8 minutes.
    • While the butter and sugars are mixing, prepare your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, using a whisk combine baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to ensure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
    • Add your dry ingredients and set mixer speed to low. Mix just until the ingredients are evenly distributed, or for about 15-45 seconds. It is critical here not to over mix. In fact, the dough should look shaggy.
    • Add the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, mini chocolate chips, and espresso chips to your batter. Mix on low speed until mix-ins are just barely incorporated, no more than 30 to 45 seconds.

    Preparing your Cookies

    • Scoop your cookie dough onto parchment-lined sheet pans 3 inches apart.
    • Using your palms, pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat.
    • Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 week. I

    Baking your Cookies

    • Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
    • Bake cookies for 12 – 14 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown when done. There might be some caramelization from the brown sugar.

    Notes

    Recipe Notes:
    • The Cinnamon Toast Crunch.- Crunch can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one week or the the refrigerator or freezer for one month. 
    • The cookies are placed in the refrigerator to help with shape.  If cookies are baked from room temperature they will spread and flatten. 
    Credit:  This cookie was adapted using the recipe from Milk Bar’s Corn Flake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookie.
     
    Keyword Chocolate, Chocolate Espresso Macarons, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie, Cookies, Milk Bar
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Mexican Chocolate Tart Topped with Pecans

    Mexican Chocolate Tart Topped with Pecans

    A rich dark chili Mexican chocolate tart made with a gluten-free almond crust and topped with cinnamon pecan crunch. One bit of this spicy smooth chocolate and you will be reaching for another one!

    Something about the smoothness of ganache and the heat of Mexican chocolate that is the perfect marriage of texture and flavor. If you have not had Mexican chocolate you are in for a surprise. The subtle heat mixed with cinnamon is a distinctive flavor rich in tradition.

    What is Mexican Chocolate

    Without stepping on toes (I really don’t want to) the easiest way to think of Mexican chocolate is chocolate fused with chilies and cinnamon. By adding these elements, Mexican chocolate perfectly marries sweetness and heat.

    However, that is the simplest way to think of Mexican chocolate. The truth is there is so much more to it, dating all the way back to the Aztecs. Mexican chocolate history and details are much richer than my very brief explanation above. To learn more about it, I recommend reading one of these articles from The Atlantic or from Spruce Eats. Both The Atlantic and Spruce Eats provide a much more detailed, and deserved explanation.

    How do I make Mexican Chocolate?

    Mexican chocolate is made from ground roasted cocoa nibs, sugar, chili, and cinnamon. The cocoa nibs give this chocolate a granular texture and a distinctive flavor. While you can make it, I find that the heat in red chilies can vary quite a bit. So to ensure a consistent amount of heat and sweetness, I think it is best to purchase a chili chocolate bar. There are several companies that make chili chocolate, however, my favorite is the Lindt Chili Chocolate bar.

    Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

    This Mexican chocolate tart is made with a chocolate chili ganache. The ganache is smooth and perfect. However, sometimes I like a little crunch on top, giving the tart texture. For this I chose cinnamon pecans, bringing all the flavors of traditional Mexican chocolate into this tart.

    This pecan crunch is super easy to make. All the ingredients are tossed together and baked in the oven. Once done, break the pecans into smaller pieces, either by hand or pulsed in a food processor. If you prefer, you can buy a premade praline pecan at the store. Those are also delicious and very easy!

    Top down view of Mexican chocolate tart with pecan crunch and whipped cream on top.
    Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Pecans

    Crust – To Gluten or Not?

    When deciding what type of crust you want there is a ton of flexibility. A traditional crust can be made with pastry or flour. In America, we tend to love super sweet crusts made from crushed cookies or wafers. I made this particular dessert for my beloved niece Molly who is gluten-free. This request was easily met by using almond flour as the crust base. The almond flour provided an excellent flavor and I would choose it again regardless of diet. It was that good.

    Tart vs. Tartlet

    • A tart is an open pastry, normally made of shortcrust pastry. The filling can vary from sweet (like this recipe) or savory (like a quiche). Very common in the US are custard tarts with berries on top. This type of tart is common for a good reason, they are totally delicious!
      • Tart pans come in all types of sizes but are normally round or rectangular.
      • Tart pans normally have a removable bottom. This makes it easy to remove the tart from the pan.
    • A tartlet is a single serving tart pan. One notable difference is the tartlets used in this photo do not have removable bottoms. That was a massive purchase error on my part.

    Ingredient’s

    • Almond flour — is used in the crust of this recipe as a gluten-free alternative. Feel free to use the crumb of your choice or stick with almond flour, it is delicious!
    • Cocoa powder — A little cocoa powder was used to flavor the crust chocolate. Omit cocoa powder if you prefer a non-chocolate crust.
    • Butter and salt — Butter is used to bind the crust together and a pinch of salt is used for flavor.
    • Chili chocolate — You can make chili chocolate from scratch, however, for this recipe, I chose to use Lindt chili chocolate. I prefer buying a pre-made chocolate bar to ensure the chili to chocolate ratio is perfect and not too overwhelming. (It is something that can easily go awry).
    • Bittersweet chocolate — The ganache is made by melting chili chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. This provides just the right amount of chili heat in each bite. It’s more of a subtle heat that is not overwhelming.
    • Heavy whipping cream – This is a must for making ganache. In fact, I would not try making ganache without it.
    • Butter – When baking always use non-salted butter. By using butter without salt, you are allowed to control how much salt is in your recipe.
    • Vanilla extract – Use this to add flavor. It always boosts whatever you’re cooking.
    • Cinnamon – Is a classic flavor used in traditional Mexican chocolate. Cinnamon adds a sweet and woody flavor to the pecan crunch.

    Visual Steps

    1
    This recipe will fit a 9 inch tart pan or 6 tartlets.
    2
    Create the Crust: Combine 2 cups almond flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup butter, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
    3
    Press the crust into the tart or tartlet pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Allow to fully cool before next step.
    4
    Mexican Chili Ganache: Start with 1 cup of warmed heavy whipping cream.
    5
    Add 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and 4 ounces of chili chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
    6
    Add 4 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until smooth.
    7
    Add one tablespoon of vanilla extract, one teaspoon of cinnamon (optional), a dash of salt. Whisk.
    8
    Pour ganache into tart or tartlets.
    9
    Allow ganache to cool and top with whipped cream.
    Like and visit my site Life on Westerly Creek.
    Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 2, Episode 2, Show Stopper – Miniature Sweet Tarts

    This was such a fun challenge. I was so happy at how the ganache and tart turned out. If I made this again, I would make it exactly the same!

    GBBO Count: 19 down, 261 to go!

    6 Mexican Chocolate Tarts topped with whipped cream. One in front and five behind in a v.

    Mexican Chocolate Tart

    A rich dark chili chocolate tart made with a gluten-free almond crust and topped with a cinnamon pecan crunch. One bit of this spicy smooth chocolate and you will be reaching for another one!
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 12 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American, French, Mexican
    Servings 6

    Equipment

    • 9 inch tart pan or 6 individual tart pans
    • Food processor (optional)
    • Heatproof bowl
    • Hand Mixer

    Ingredients
      

    Crust

    Dark Chocolate Chili Ganache

    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • 4 ounces dark chili chocolate
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 dash salt

    Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

    • 2 cups pecans
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • tablespoons water

    Whipped Cream (Optional)

    Instructions
     

    Crust

    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    • Combine almond flour, cocoa powder, butter, maple syrup, and salt to form your crust
    • Press the crust into the tart pan or tartlets.
    • Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Once baked allow to cool before moving to the next step.

    Dark Chocolate Chili Ganache

    • Warm whipped cream.
    • Add the bittersweet chocolate and the dark chili chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
    • Add the 4 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until smooth.
    • Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk.
    • Pour ganache into cooled tart/tartlet pans.

    Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (Optional)

    • Add all ingredients to a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat.
    • Stir all ingredients together and continue to stir as the sugar melts.
    • Cook for five minutes and then remove from heat.
    • Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool.
    • Break the pecans into small pieces either by using a food processor or placing the pecans in a zip lock bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.

    Whipped Cream

    • Pour the cream into a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix the cream until stiff peaks are about to form.
    • Add in sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until stiff peaks form.
    • Spoon whipped cream onto the tart/tartlets or fill a piping bag and pipe the whipped cream.

    Video

    Mexican Chocolate Tart/Tartlets by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Notes

    Recipe notes:
    • Making the crust: I used almond flour to make a gluten-free crust. If you prefer a crust made out of another ingredient substitute at a 1:1 ratio.
    • Making the ganache: Whipped cream only needs to be above 100 degrees to melt chocolate. Use caution, not to overheat and burn the cream.  
    • Ganache chili heat:  The chili heat is mild to me, however, heat is a personal preference. You can adjust the heat by increasing the bittersweet chocolate and reducing the chili chocolate or vise versa. If you prefer no heat, you can substitute the chili chocolate for a high percent of chocolate bar (60% – 70%).
    • Both the pecans and whipped cream are optional. The tart/tartlets are great with or without them. You can also buy these pre-made if you prefer.
    Keyword Chocoloate, cinnamon, Mexican Chocolate, Pecans, Tart
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Cadbury Mini Egg Chocolate Cake

    Cadbury Mini Egg Chocolate Cake

    Cadbury Mini Eggs – the greatest candy on earth — meet the best chocolate cake on earth
    and you have the greatest dessert ever made. I promise!

    Cadbury Mini Eggs

    If you have never had Cadbury Mini Eggs you need to stop reading this and head directly to the store. They are really THAT good. I can tell you about the first time I had Cadbury Mini Eggs, about my addiction, and how I dragged three generations of my family into addiction. And guess what, I don’t feel bad about it. Yep, we all share in the same Mini Egg obsession. They really are that good!

    I am going to let you in on a little secret, you can in fact get these eggs almost year around in America. Yep, that is right. I have found them in the seasonal candy section at Target throughout the year (4th of July, Check. Christmas, Check. Halloween, Check). But if you’re reading this and you are unable to find any eggs, no worries, I have lots of other chocolate recipes to meet any craving you might have. I recommend my banana chocolate cream pie or chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream.

    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake Up Close
    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake Eggs Up Close

    Chocolate Cake

    There is only one type of chocolate cake that is worthy of Cadbury Mini Eggs, the moistest and rich chocolate cake I can bake. To meet the expectation I am pulling out all my favorite tricks to make this cake. Below are the ingredients that I used. While you can use substations, I do not recommend them. Every ingredient was carefully planned. Trust me, it’s worth it.

    All Purpose Flour – This is stronger than cake flour, but not as strong as bread flour. Combined with the cocoa powder, this flour is strong enough to hold up two tiers, buttercream, and lots of mini eggs.

    Cocoa Powder This cake is very sweet. Use an unsweetened cocoa powder to provide balance. My go-to is Hershey’s, but use whatever you have on hand.

    Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Both of these ingredients contain bicarbonate. There is a whole lot of science behind bicarbonates, but really all you need to know is that bicarbonates provide the lift that makes this cake-like and fluffy!

    Espresso Powder – This is my favorite secret ingredient when it comes to making chocolate cakes. Used in small amounts, espresso powder amplifies the chocolate flavor. Espresso powder is different from instant coffee. It is made from darkly roasted coffee beans that have been brewed, dried, and then ground to a fine powder.

    Buttermilk – is naturally acidic and it reacts with leavening agents (bicarbonates) to produce lighter and fluffier textures in a cake.

    Vegetable Oil – This is actually the best oil for making cakes. The reason? Vegetable oil contributes to moistness more reliably than butter. This is due to vegetable oil remaining liquid at room temperature, whereas butter wants to solidify. As a result, the cake will be more consistent and moist than if you use butter.

    Eggs – First use room temperature eggs. Room temperature allows the egg yolks to break down and makes it easier for them to incorporate into other ingredients. Eggs create structure and stability within a batter and add moisture.

    Vanilla Extract – Is the best supporting actor in baking. A few drops enhance all the other flavors in the cake. I am not exactly sure how it does it. I just know if you leave vanilla extract out, you will regret it. The flavor will be meh.

    Boiling Water – Boiling water is key to achieving a rich and moist chocolate cake. Boiling water combined with cocoa powder causes the cocoa powder to bloom. What that really means is the hot water maximizes the chocolate flavor. As a bonus, the hot water also dissolves any cocoa powder clumps.

    Chocolate Buttercream

    This buttercream is the best buttercream you will make. I know that is a big claim and I promise, this buttercream will hold up to that claim. The texture is light, it is full and it is perfect between the cakes.

    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake Slice
    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake Slice

    Cadbury Mini Eggs

    First, let’s talk about egg chocolate type. These eggs come in three varieties: white, milk, and dark chocolate. For this cake, milk chocolate is the perfect flavor. It is rich and not really all that milky. The result is a perfect flavor to match with the cake and buttercream.

    If you’re tempted to use the dark mini eggs, I recommend trying them before using them. As a dark chocolate lover, this is hard for me to write, the dark chocolate is too rich and fudge-like. It is not like the typical dark chocolate used in baking and it just won’t taste right in this cake.

    Next, let’s talk about the hard shell coating. For this cake, I used two different types, the normal coating, and the shimmer coating. That was a mistake on my end, I had bought the normal coating preparing for this cake. Then the day I was baking I noticed the shimmer coating and decided to try it. I love the way the shimmer looks. However, know that only one type of coating is needed, and use the one you like the most.

    Finally, after applying the buttercream, add a texture layer of broken Cadbury Mini Eggs. This provides depth and texture in every bite and is absolutely amazing. To do this I followed the tried and true technique of half a cup of Mini Eggs placed in a plastic bag. Once in the bag, go over the eggs with a rolling pin. Simple and effective. The best part, the eggs tasted even better this way. I swear. It was a pleasant surprise!

    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake with Missing Egg (Great British Bake Off Nod)


    Make ahead

    Both the cake and the buttercream can be made and stored in advanced.

    • Chocolate cake – Allow the cakes to fully cool. Wrap each cake individually in cling wrap.
      • Refrigerator – Can be stored for up to one week in an air-tight container.
      • Freezer – Can be stored for up to one month in an air-tight container.

    • Buttercream frosting – Can be stored in both the refrigerator or freezer.
      • Refrigerator – Can be stored for up to one week in an air-tight container.
      • Freezer – Scoop the buttercream into a freezer bag and remove the air. Buttercream can be stored for up to three months. Before using freeze buttercream, remove it from the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. Then place it on the counter for an hour or two before using to allow it to come up to room temperature.

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 2, Episode 1, Show Stopper – Chocolate Tiered Cake

    This bake was a show-stopper bake. Honestly, there is not too much to say about it. It was right up my alley and I had been planning it for months. I was excited to break out my cake stand and tools. My initial intent was to cover the cake in ganache, but in the end, I decided to do a semi-naked cake. I think that was the right choice given how sweet the cake is.

    I did remove one of the outer yellow eggs. It was my nod to the cake at the opening of every show. If you noticed, let me know. I would love to just know someone is following along:)

    On a personal note, I did sign up for the Milk Bar baking class. Starting in April by blog will cover some of what I learned in these classes. I am excited to up my baking game and share it with you!

    GBBO Count: 18 down, 262 to go!

    Cadbury Mini Egg Cake Top Down

    Cadbury Mini Egg Chocolate Cake

    Cadbury Mini Eggs – the greatest candy on earth — meet the best chocolate cake on earth and you have the greatest cake ever made. I promise!
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 30 mins
    Cooling and Assembly 45 mins
    Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 12

    Equipment

    • Large bowl
    • Mixer (hand or stand)
    • 2 – 9 inch cake pans
    • Piping bag
    • Cake stand (optional)
    • Cake scraper (optional)

    Ingredients
      

    Cake

    Chocolate Buttercream

    Cadbury Mini Eggs

    • ½ cup Cadbury mini eggs crushed
    • 2 cups Cadbury mini eggs (top decoration)

    Instructions
     

    Cake

    • Preheat oven to 350º F and grease two 9-inch cake pans.
    • Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in a large bowl or stand mixing bowl. Use a whisk to ensure the mixture is mixed well and the baking powder and baking soda are evenly distributed.
    • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the flour mixture and mix at medium speed. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
    • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
    • Remove and allow to fully cool.

    Chocolate Buttercream

    • Add cocoa powder to a large bowl or stand mixer mixer. Using a whisk, work through the cocoa powder to remove any clumps
    • Add butter to the bowl and cream the butter and cocoa powder together.
    • Add sugar and milk to the cocoa mixture by alternating the sugar and milk. I recommend adding one cup of sugar and then one tablespoon of milk at low speed. After each addition has been combined, turn the mixer onto a high speed and mix for about about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
    • Add vanilla extract and espresso powder

    Assembly

    • Fill a piping bag with the chocolate buttercream using a round tip
    • Place the first cake on the stand and pipe the buttercream filling. Once piped, top with 1/2 cup of crushed Cadbury mini eggs.
    • Place the second layer of cake on top. Pipe buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. Arrange the 2 cups of Cadbury mini eggs on top as desired.
    Keyword Cadbury Mini Egg, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Cake, Chocolate Cake
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake

    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake

    Butter, sour cream, brown sugar, and dulce de leche come together to create a rich and decadent coffee cake.
    I always hope that it will last a few days. But it never does. It is that good.

    I have this thing about cake. I also have this thing about coffee. Not to mention I have this really big thing about dulce de leche. So, I thought let me put them all together and make a dulce de leche coffee cake! Ok, so no coffee is in the cake, but it’s the perfect cake to eat with the perfect cup of coffee!

    What is Dulce de Leche?

    I like to think of dulce de leche as sweetened caramelized milk. It is made by reducing milk and sugar over low heat. There are a couple of different ways to make it. You can make it from scratch using this recipe or buy it. It is available at most stores or on Amazon.

    The exact origins are a debate. Most believe that it originated in Argentina. However, this is a continuous point and many Latin American countries lay claim to creating this sweet treat. Me, well I say I don’t care who created it. I am just glad they did. So on behalf of American dulce de leche lovers, thank you, whoever you are (were).

    Dulce de Leche Jar and Spoon
    Dulce de Leche Jar and Spoon

    What is Coffee Cake?

    Coffee cake is quite simply any cake that is eaten with coffee. Typically coffee cake has two distinct layers that are separated with a ribbon of cinnamon, butter, and flour. This same ribbon is spread across the top of the cake before baking. Once baked it becomes the crunchy signature streusel commonly associated with coffee cake.

    Dulce de Leche and Cup
    Dulce de Leche and coffee cup

    Ingredient Run down

    This cake is baked in butter and sour cream. Which makes it heavenly, but also makes it heavier than a traditional cake. The crumb and dulce de leche are spread in the middle layer and again on the top. All of these ingredients come together to create a rich and decadent coffee cake. Here is a rundown of the ingredients that I used and why.

    • All-purpose flour – This is a strong flour, sturdy enough to hold up against the weight of the sour cream and dulce de leche.
    • Light brown sugar – Adds sweetness to the streusel crumb. You can use either light or dark, both will work with this recipe.
    • Ground cinnamon – Is a traditional flavor used in the crumb. You could go without it, but why? Cinnamon is classic tradition worth keeping!
    • Unsalted butter – Always use unsalted butter. Then when you add in salt you know exactly how much salt is in the recipe.
    • Baking powder and soda – Are leveling agents that give rise to your cake. The baking powder actually lightens the texture of your cake by enlarging the air bubbles. Use products that are less than 6 months old. Anything older will lessen the rise of your cake.
    • Sugar – Always sweetness the cake. I use good old-fashioned white sugar.
    • Large eggs – Eggs add structure, leavening, color, and flavor to cakes. Large eggs are the default at the store and easy to find.
    • Vanilla extract – Add a lot of flavor to your cake. The real study can be expensive. While I love the real stuff, I often use imitation to save money. (shhhhh, our secret.)
    • Sour cream – Adds weight and smoothness that we associate with coffee cake. For this, I use full-fat sour cream. There is just no substitute.
    • Dulce de leche – Bliss. Pure bliss. I don’t know what else to say about this gift from the gods.

    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake Coffee Dip
    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake Coffee Dip

    How to make Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake

    First, you will need to decide if you are going to make or buy dulce de leche. If you are going to make it, I recommend using my recipe located here. If you are going to buy some, you can probably find it at your local supermarket or order it on amazon.

    Next, let’s make the topping. Once it is made, set it aside for later. To make the topping you will need:

    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • Dash of salt
    • 5 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
    1. Using a whisk, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
    2. Using your fingers, add the butter and mix thoroughly with your fingers.
      1. It is ideal to have small clumps form. They will bake into the crunchy streusel.
    3. Once mixed, set aside.

    Once the topping is made, we will being to make the cake. You will need the following ingredients:

    • 8 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
    1. Preheat the oven to 350.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
    3. In a large bowl using either a hand or standing mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar at medium-high speed. The goal is to have the mixture be light and fluffy. This will take about 3 minutes.
    4. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
    5. Add in the vanilla.
    6. Reduce to low speed and add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream. Two things to note here:
      1. You will want to start and end with the flour. I added mine in the following order: flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour.
      2. The goal is to the flour just enough to incorporate. It is VERY easy to over-mix here. If you do over-mix the result will be a flatter cake. If you’re worried about over mixing, I recommend mixing the flour and sour cream in by hand using a spatula.
    7. The cake batter will be very thick. This is your goal.
    8. Using the butter wrapper, grease a square cake pan or a loaf pan.
    9. Spoon half of the cake batter and using a spatula, smooth the top. Sprinkle half of the crumb topping over the batter. Then drizzle half the dulce de leche over the top of the crumb.
    10. Spoon the remaining cake batter on top and smooth the top. Sprinkle on the remaining crumb topping. Drizzle the dulce de leche over the top.
    11. Bake at 325 for one hour. The cake and topping should be golden brown. If you’re using a toothpick, once inserted into the center of the cake the toothpick should come out clean.
    12. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.
    13. If you have leftover dulce de leche it tastes great drizzled over the top!
    A little extra dulce de leche never hurt anyone😊

    Visual Steps

    1
    Make the Crumb Topping: Mix together 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 2/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 pinch of salt.
    2
    Using your hands, add 5 tablespoons of room temperature butter and mix well. set aside.
    3
    Make the Cake: mix two cups of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
    4
    Using a hand mixer, blend 1 cup of sugar and 8 tbsp of room temperature butter.
    5
    Add 2 large eggs, one at a time.
    6
    Mix 2 tsp of vanilla
    7
    Mix flour and sour cream in alternating batches (flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour)
    8
    Grease cake pan. Layer batter, crumb, dulce de leche. Repeat.
    9
    Bake for 1 hour in a preheated oven @ 350 degrees. Cool and then enjoy!
    Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.
    Dulce de Leche Slice

    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake

    Butter, sour cream, brown sugar, and dulce de leche come together to create a rich and delicious coffee cake.
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 30 mins
    Cook Time 1 hr
    Course Breakfast
    Cuisine American, argentinian, German, Latin American
    Servings 6

    Equipment

    • Mixer (hand or standing)
    • Large bowl
    • Medium bowl
    • Whisk
    • Spatula
    • Square cake pan or loaf pan

    Ingredients
      

    Crumb Topping

    Coffee Cake

    Instructions
     

    Step One – Make the Crumb

    • Using a whisk, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
    • Using your fingers, add the butter and mix thoroughly with your fingers. It is ok to have small clumps.
    • Once mixed, set aside.

    Step Two- Make the Batter

    • Preheat the oven to 350.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
    • In a large bowl using either a hand or standing mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes.
    • Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
    • Add in the vanilla.
    • Reduce to low speed and add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream. (Recommended sequence: Flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour)
      Mix just enough to incorporate, using caution not to over mix.
    • The cake batter will be very thick. This is your goal.

    Step Three – Assembly and Baking

    • Using the butter wrapper, grease a square cake pan or a loaf pan.
    • Spoon half of the cake batter and using a spatula, smooth the top . Sprinkle half of the crumb topping over the batter. Then drizzle half the dulce de leche over the top of the crumb.
    • Spoon the remaining cake batter on top and smooth the top. Sprinkle on the remaining crumb topping. Drizzle the dulce de leche over the top.
    • Bake at 325 for one hour. The cake and topping should be golden brown. If your using a tooth pick, once inserted into the center of the cake the toothpick should come out clean.
    • Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.

    Video

    Dulce De Leche Coffee Cake by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Notes

    Recipe notes:
    Recommended equipment:
    Keyword Coffee Cake, Dulce de Leche, Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Pear, Grape and Blue Cheese Focaccia Bread

    Pear, Grape and Blue Cheese Focaccia Bread

    Focaccia bread is a think Italian bread with a chewy airy interior. The top is layered with oven-roasted pears, red grapes, and blue cheese. This is perfect as an appetizer, as a side, or topped with arugula as a light meal. Either, way it tastes great!

    What is Focaccia Bread?

    Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that varies from region to region, but common trademarks include a thin crisp top, tender crumb inside that is filled with large holes (this is a really good thing in bread making) and baked in a rectangular shape.

    In Northern Italy pizza is known as focaccia. In America, we know it as an appetizer or a bread to go with a meal. We commonly put all kinds of herbs (oregano, rosemary, etc.), salt, and olive oil on top. Occasionally you might find this bread with a side of marinara to dip it in. Focaccia is also used as sandwich bread in some stores. I personally think all ways are great. This is a super versatile bread!

    Focaccia
    Focaccia

    Focaccia Bread Ingredients

    The ingredients to make the dough are simple and pretty standard for bread making.

    Dough

    • Bread flour – Has a higher amount of protein and gluten than all-purpose flour. The result is an airy and chewy bread that is the trademark of focaccia bread.
    • Yeast – For this recipe use dry active yeast.
    • Olive oil – Extra virgin. Is there any other kind?
    • Salt – I used sea salt from my table grinder. Use what you have on hand.
    • Water – Focaccia has very high water content. I use regular tap water. However, you will want to ensure the water is cold. This is very different from most bread recipes — and you read it correctly, use cold water per Paul Hollywood.

    Toppings Used in this Recipe

    Below are the toppings I used to make this bread. The toppings are very flexible and you can interchange with different ingredients.

    • Grapes – I recommend using red grapes. Once in the oven, they become roasted. The flavor intensifies and when you bite into the grape it will be between a grape and jam. Afterward, you will want to oven roast grapes all the time!
    • Pear – I selected an Asian pear because they are my favorite and they were in stock. I recommend using your favorite variety. Once the pear has been roasted in the oven, much like the grapes, their flavor will intensify and the pear will soften. It is amazing!
    • Blue cheese – There are many varieties of blue cheese. I used a smokey blue cheese, but that was because it was on sale. (The only better than blue cheese is affordable blue cheese!) For this, you can use any variety of blue cheese including gorgonzola or Stilton. I would pick the variety you prefer.
    • Onion (optional)- I used red onion in the first batch of focaccia I made. When the onion is caramelized, the color is deep and I like that. However, all onions caramelize and I recommend using the variety you prefer or happen in your pantry.
    • Honey – Provides a pop of sweetness to this bread and takes it to the next level.
    • Arugula (optional) – The bitterness of the arugula balances out the sweetness of the bread. I put arugula on top of the bread and made it a light meal.
    Pear, Grape, Blue Cheese Focaccia Ingredients
    Pear, Grape, Blue Cheese Focaccia Ingredients

    Detailed Description on How to Make Focaccia Bread

    For this bread recipe, I followed Paul Hollywood’s dough recipe from the BBC site. This recipe is a great introduction to focaccia bread. However, once the dough was made, I modified the bread to make what I envisioned a great bread with wine would be.

    I wrote the recipe with details here.

    Ingredients:

    • BREAD
    • 500 grams bread flour
    • 2 teaspoon salt
    • 7 grams dry active yeast
    • 14 ounces cold water
    • Olive oil and salt for drizzling
    • TOPPINGS
    • 1 pear thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup red grapes
    • 1/2 cup blue cheese
    • 1 red onion caramelized (optional)
    • 2 sprigs of rosemary (optional)

    How to make the dough…

    • Place the flour, salt, dry active yeast, and olive oil in a large bowl. Note: Always place the salt and yeast on opposite sides before mixing. If placed next to each other the salt will kill the yeast.
    • Add about half of the water and gently stir with a spoon. Gradually add in the rest of the water and begin mixing with your hands. In this stage, the dough is very wet and messy. Because of this, it is easier to work the dough in your bowl.
    • Once the dough comes together and is less messy, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly oiled surface. Knead the dough for 7 – 10 minutes. It will be challenging at the start due to the water content. Note, that focaccia is a very wet bread (75% water to flour ratio). This wetness makes it messy to deal with in the early kneading stages.
    • Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and leave to rise until doubled in size. The rise will take 1 – 2 hours. However, do not exceed two hours of rising.
    • I recommend using a 9 x13 rimmed baking sheet or glass dish. It is important to note whichever dish you use will impact the baking time. When I used a sheet the baking time was 20 minutes. When I used a glass dish, the baking time was over 30 minutes. Whichever dish you use, grease with olive oil.
    • Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten the dough onto the prepared tray or dish by pushing the dough into the corners. Cover the dough with cling wrap or a shower cap. Let the dough proof for one hour.
    • Once proofed, run your fingers over the dough creating dimples. Then drizzle the focaccia with olive oil and salt. The olive oil will fill in some of the bubbles that were created with your fingers. This is a good thing.
    • Spread with your desired toppings. I made this bread a couple of times and each time I always use pear, grapes, and blue cheese. One time I used caramelized onions and another time I used rosemary. Honestly, they both tasted great and I think if you have a penchant for either one of those ingredients it’s a great idea to add them.
    • Once you have added the toppings, bake at 425 in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. You will know when it is done by the golden brown color.
    Pear, Grape, Blue Cheese Focaccia With Arugula
    Pear, Grape, Blue Cheese Focaccia With Arugula Baked on a Large Baking Sheet

    Visual Steps

    1
    Make the dough by combining flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and water.
    2
    Knead the dough for 7 – 10 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover and proof until doubled in size (1-2 hours).
    3
    Oil a baking sheet or dish, spread the dough . Proof for one hour.
    4
    After the second proof, spread desired toppings and bake at 425 for 25 – 35 minutes.
    5
    Cool, drizzle with honey, balsamic vinegar reduction or olive oil.
    For more details visit: Life on Westerly Creek
    Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    More Bread Recipes From my Site

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 2, Episode 3, Technical – Focaccia

    I am here at season 2! I am so excited to be continuing on this journey!

    About this bake. Honestly, it was pretty straightforward. The bread was pretty easy to make (I have made quite a few different styles by now) and I loved the toppings. Once I designed the recipe I could not wait to make it. Then I ate it for days. It was that good!

    One thing to note, last season I made the bakes in sequential order. At the time it made sense because I was just trying this out. However this season I am going to bake things in any order. I think this will help to align what I am baking with holidays and family get-together. The one exception will be the final episode. I would like (although I cannot promise) to complete those bakes at the end.) Hopefully, someone is reading this and following along in my journey. I am trying to make it as fun as possible, introduce new flavors, and deviate where it makes sense.

    GBBO Count: 17 down, 263 to go!

    Pear, Grape, Blue Cheese Focaccia Baked

    Pear, Grape and Blue Cheese Focaccia Bread

    This bread can be eaten as an appetizer, as a side, or topped with arugula as a light meal. Either, way it tastes great!
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Cook Time 30 mins
    Proofing Time 2 hrs
    Course Appetizer, Bread
    Cuisine Italian
    Servings 6

    Equipment

    • 9×13 baking dish or rimmed sheet

    Ingredients
      

    • 500 grams bread flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 7 grams yeast
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 14 ounces cold water
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 pear
    • .5 cup red grapes
    • .5 cup blue cheese

    Instructions
     

    • Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and 1/2 of the water into a large bowl. Stir to combine the ingredients. (I like to start with a spoon and finish with my hands)
    • Continue to work the dough in the bowl. As it starts to come together, add the remaining water a little bit at a time to help pick up any flour remaining in the bowl.
    • Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for seven-ten minutes. You will know your done when the dough is smooth and no longer stick to your hands.
    • Lightly oil a bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and cover until the dough has doubled in size. This step takes one-two hours, but should not exceed two hours.
    • While the dough is proofing, lightly oil a baking sheet or dish.
    • Place the dough in the baking sheet or dish. Using your fingers, work the dough into all four corners of the sheet. Dimple the dough with your fingers. Cover with plastic and proof for one hour.
    • While the dough is proofing, preparing your toppings.
    • Preheat the oven to 425. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on top. Top with grapes, thinly sliced pear, and blue cheese. Bake for 20 – 30minutes. You will know when the bread is done baking by the rich golden color.

    Video

    Grape, Pear and Blue Cheese Focaccia Bread by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Notes

    Recipe Notes:
    Baking Dish:
    This recipe will fit best into a 9×13 baking dish. I recommend using a rimmed baking sheet or dish. However, the baking time can vary depending on the baking equipment. You will know when the bread is complete by the golden color. 
    Storing:
    * Focaccia will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Cover the bread with plastic wrap, for 2 days. If you would like it warm, reheat in the oven at 375 for ten minutes. 
    * To freeze, wrap in cling wrap and place in a zip lock freezer bag. The focaccia will store in a freezer for up to one month. 
    Additional toppings:
    * I like to have this bread with arugula on top and eat it as a meal. Other popular toppings include herbs (rosemary), goat cheese, and thinly sliced meats. Have fun experimenting with different toppings.
    Keyword Bread, focaccia
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    How to Make Dulce de Leche

    How to Make Dulce de Leche

    Note: This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

    Dulce de Leche
    My translation, caramelized heavenly milk
    Actual translation, candy made from milk
    Universal translation, damn that’s good!


    What is Dulce de Leche?


    For those of you who are new to dulce de leche, it is probably easiest to think of it as sweetened caramelized milk. It is made by reducing milk and sugar over low heat. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to make, but like homemade caramel, it’s worth the work.

    The exact origins of this sweet treat are a debate. Most believe that dulce de leche originated in Argentina. However, this is a continuous point and many Latin American countries claim to create this luscious sauce. Me, I say I don’t care who created it. I am just glad they did. So on behalf of American dulce de leche lovers, thank you, whoever you are (or were).

    As much as I love it, I am embarrassed to admit that I did not discover dulce de leche until 2012. To be fair, I have been narrow in my dessert options until the last decade. However, I was getting married that summer and we wanted to offer two different types of desserts. We were eating at one of my favorite Denver restaurants, Tony P’s, and that is where I was introduced to dulce de leche. Tony’s cake introduced me to a whole new world of flavor. (Thank you, Tony!)


    Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake and Coffee

    What is the Difference Between Dulce de Leche, Caramel and Butterscotch?

    The truth is dulce de leche, caramel, and butterscotch are all very smilier and yet still very different. It took me some time before I could tell the difference between the three. Here is how I think of the differences…

    Dulce de leche is made from slowly cooking milk and sugar together at a low temperature. The caramel color comes from the browning of the milk. Some recipes, including mine, use baking soda. By adding baking soda the cooking process is sped up (but note it still takes a long time to make).

    Caramel is made from cooking granulated sugar at a high temperature. As the sugar melts, it caramelizes. To achieve caramelization, the temperature must reach between 240 – 245 degrees.

    Butterscotch is made from cooking brown sugar with butter, also at a high temperature. Butterscotch has a sweeter flavor than caramel. It is also softer than caramel.

    Easiest way to think of it…

    • Dulce de Leche = Milk +Sugar
    • Caramel = Sugar
    • Butterscotch = Brown Sugar + Butter

    Dulce de Leche Pour



    What Can I Use it With?

    I use dulce de leche where caramel is often used. In fact, I created this batch to use in a coffee cake recipe I am developing. There is enough leftover that I will also be using to make cinnamon rolls. Aka, there will be lots of dulce de leche recipes coming your way! Here are a few other places I think you will enjoy it.

    Use as a topping on

    • Budino
    • Sundae’s
    • Ice cream
    • Doughnuts
    • Cheesecakes
    • Brownies/blondies
    • Waffles
    • Pancakes

    Use as a filling with

    • Cookies
    • Macaron’s
    • Cakes
    • Crapes
    • Swiss roll cake
    • Trifle
    • Tarts
    • Chocolate

    Use as a dip/mix with

    • Apples
    • Popcorn
    • Strawberries
    • Banana
    • Marshmallow
    • Pretzels
    • Coffee
    • Granola
    Dulce de Leche across dough



    How do I make It?

    There are two common ways to make dulce de leche. One is the traditional Argentinian way and the other is using condensed milk. For this recipe, I am going to focus on the traditional Argentinian way. It is a slow process, but to be honest, I like the slow process. While the milk is caramelizing there is time to do other things in the kitchen. Just make sure you stay close towards the end so that you can stir the milk often.

    What you'll need
    1 Cinnamon Stick
    (1)
    Sugar
    (1 cup)
    Baking Soda
    (1/4 teaspoon)
    Dark Corn Syrup
    (1 tablespoon)
    Whole Milk
    (4 cups)
    Steps
    1
    Add milk, sugar, dark corn syrup, cinnamon stick. Stir.
    2
    Bring to a boil and then add baking soda.
    3
    Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring periodically.
    4
    Stir more towards the end to avoid burning. Quantity should reduce to 1 cup
    5
    Cool for an hour. The end result is thicker and darker.
    6
    Use it as a topping, on desserts or with sweets. Can be stored up to one month in the refrigerator.
    For written instructions visit Life on Westerly Creek
    Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.
    Dulce de Leche Jar and Spoon

    Dulce de Leche Recipe

    Dulce de Leche is sweetened caramelized milk that is perfect with coffee, cakes, crepes, macarons, ice cream, and a million other things.
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 2 mins
    Cook Time 2 hrs
    Course Breakfast, Dessert, Sauces
    Cuisine argentinian, hispanic, Latin American

    Equipment

    • Heavy saucepan

    Ingredients
      

    Instructions
     

    • In a heavy saucepan over medium heat add milk, sugar, dark corn syrup, and cinnamon stick and stir.
    • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine.
    • Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a low simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture.
    • Continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
      **About an hour into the process, stir more often to prevent the milk from burning.
    • Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
    • Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

    Video

    Dulce de Leche by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.
    Keyword Caramel, Dulce de Leche
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Just look at how cute these double chocolate chip cookies are!
    I mean who does not love pink in their cookies?
    Doesn’t that make you smile?

    These cookies so perfect for the chocolate lover in your life! What is better, they take less than 35 minutes from start to finish!

    As I write this Valentine’s day is right around the corner and I used Valentine’s M&M’s. But these can be made with any color M&M! Because they are such a favorite in my house, I will probably be making St. Patrick’s day, Easter, 4th of July, and Fall editions. I will also be making them with traditional M&M colors. However, if you’re not feeling M&M’s, there are many variations of this cookie you can make.

    If your making this for Valentine’s day and want to make it a full meal, I recommend pairing these double chocolate cookies with my favorite, pasta puttanesca with kalamata olives and capers or vegetarian pot pie with mushrooms and thyme.

    Lets Get Started Making Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    These cookies are so simple to make. It’s basically a chocolate chip cookie recipe with cocoa powder and M&M’s. Feel free to swap out the M&M’s with other types of candy. Some tasty options include:

    • Reese’s pieces
    • Butterfinger pieces
    • Crunch bar pieces
    • Rolo’s
    • Almond Joy’s
    • Crushed Oreo’s
    • Whoppers
    • Twix
    • Snickers

    What I Love About These Cookies

    • They are sooooo easy to make!
    • Always taste great. Scratch that. They always taste amazing!
    • It is easy to bake just what you need and to freeze the rest for later. (Instructions on how to do that below)
    • They can be made festive by using M&M or other candies that coordinate with the current holiday.
    • My family always thinks I am a great baker when I make them, but that is because they do not know how easy they are to make (shhhhh, our secret!)
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies on Rack
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies on Rack

    Step One: Gather Ingredients

    • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 cups flour (all purpose)
    • 2/3 cups cocoa powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1.5 cups chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup M&M’s
    • 1/2 cup M&M’s set aside to place on top of cookies
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients

    Step Two: Cream Ingredients

    At medium speed, beat together butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in either a stand-up mixer (using the flat beater attachment) or a hand mixer. You will want to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated and smooth. In order to achieve this, your butter has to be at room temperature.

    Step Three: Add Dry Ingredients

    At low speed, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to the mixture. I recommend giving it a good mix by hand first. This will keep the powder from flying all over the place like a dust storm 🙂 (yes, this did happen to me.)

    At this step, you will want to mix the ingredients until they are just mixed. I know that sounds weird, but it is easy to over-mix at this step. If you do the result will be flat cookies. Which honestly, flat cookie tastes just as good to me!

    Step Four: Add the M&M’s or Other Candy

    Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add the M&M and chocolate chips combination to your batter by hand. In this process, your M&M’s might become cracked here. It’s ok, I think it adds character and they will also crack in the baking process. However, if you want to avoid this use mini M&M’s. They might still crack, but overall they tend to hold up better.

    Step Five: Scoop and Bake

    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

    Scoop dough into balls that about 2 – 3 teaspoons in size. Then place, the dough balls evenly spaced on the baking sheets. This batch should yield 3 dozen cookies, but that can vary depending on the size of cookie balls.

    Place the cookies into an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees for 11 – 13 minutes. The time can vary depending on your oven and your personal taste. I like my cookies more on the done side so I cook them for the full 13 minutes.

    Step Six: Add Remaining M&M”s in by Hand

    When the cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately place the remaining M&M’s by hand. It is important to do this right when the cookies come out of the oven so that the M&M’s stay in place.

    Making Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Visual Steps

    How to Make Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Video on Jumprope

    Valentines Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies With M&M’s by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.

    Freezing Cookie Dough

    This recipe makes 36 cookies and it’s more than we would eat in a couple of days. My solution is to freeze some of the cookie dough so we can enjoy it later with friends and family. (Ok, or just the two of us — and I tend to eat these frozen and raw– shhhhhh — I know it is bad and I do not recommend eating raw cookie dough.)

    To freeze the dough:

    1. Scoop the dough into balls as if you were making cookies.
    2. Place the dough balls on parchment paper
    3. Freeze cookie dough balls for an hour.
    4. Once the dough is frozen, place the cookie balls into a freezer bag and zip shut.
    5. Allow the dough to come to room temperature (about 1 – 2 hours) before baking.

    The dough can be stored for three months in the freezer.

    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Bite
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Bite
    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with M&Ms

    Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    There is only one word to describe Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with M&M's — YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 13 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 36 cookies

    Equipment

    • Standing Mixer or Hand Mixer
    • Baking Sheets

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 eggs (large at room temp)
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
    • 2/3 cups cocoa powder
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • 1 cup M&M's – 1/2 cup mixed with chocolate chips and 1/2 cup set aside for decoration after baking.

    Instructions
     

    • Beat together on medium speed butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in either a stand-up mixer (using the flat beater attachment) or a hand mixer. These are your wet ingredients.
      * You will want to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated and are smooth.
    • Using a whisk, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
    • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix at low speed, just enough to add ingredients.
    • Once the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients, add the M&M and chocolate chips combination to your batter and mix by hand.
    • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
    • Scoop dough into balls that about about 2 – 3 teaspoons in size. Then place, the dough balls evenly spaced on the baking sheets.
    • Place the cookies into an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees for 11 – 13 minutes. The time can vary depending on your oven and your personal taste.
    • Remove from the oven and place the M&M's that were set aside on top of each cookie for decoration while the cookies are hot.
    • This batch should yield 3 dozen cookies, but that can vary depending on the size of cookie balls.

    Notes

    • If possible, set out the butter and eggs two-four hours before starting to mix the wet ingredients. This will allow the ingredients to fully blend together.
    • You want to mix the dry ingredients by hand first to ensure the baking soda is evenly distributed. This ensures an even rise across all cookies.
    • I used pink and red M&M’s for these cookies because Valentine’s day is right around the corner. Use any color or the color that fits the upcoming holiday of your choice.
    Products used or recommended
    Keyword Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cookies, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with M&M’s
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Mini Red Velvet Cakes (Petit Fours)

    Mini Red Velvet Cakes  (Petit Fours)

    Note: This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

    Four – six mini red velvet cakes sandwiched between sweet cream cheese frosting and filled with fresh strawberry jam.
    It’s the perfect cake for any occasion.

    Red velvet is the perfect choice for Valentines day, Christmas or any occasion. In my opinion, red velvet is always the perfect choice!

    If you’re new to red velvet, it is actually a chocolate cake made with cocoa powder. The difference between a red velvet cake and a chocolate cake is a red velvet recipe uses about half as much cocoa powder. The result is a lightly flavored chocolate cake.

    As I write this post, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. These little cakes are perfect to cap off a romantic dinner at home, which is probably where most of us will be for Valentine’s Day 2021. Here is my perfect COVID — stuck at-home — Valentine’s dinner:

    I know, It’s a lot of shameless self promotion. But on the other hand it will be an amazing dinner!

    Mini Red Velvet Cakes
    Mini Red Velvet Cakes

    Mini Red Velvet Cake Specific Ingredient Run Down

    Flour – For this cake, I used good old-fashioned all-purpose flour. I tried making this cake with a cake flour substitute. Each time the result was an epic fail. In the end, I use standard old-fashioned all-purpose flour, from which I will never stray again.

    Jam – In the middle of the cakes, I used homemade strawberry jam. It does not take very long to make and the flavor is very fresh. If you prefer, use jam purchased at the store. It’s really all about what you will enjoy the most as a filling.

    Red Food Coloring – Red velvet cakes were originally made with beetroot to achieve a red color. Nowadays most bakers use food coloring, including me. There are two types of red food coloring, gel and regular. The gel food coloring is much more concentrated than the regular version. If you use the regular food coloring, you will need to double the amount used.

    Mini Red Velvet Hearts
    Mini Red Velvet Hearts

    Let’s talk Mini Red Velvet Cakes

    Size – I wrote this as a small cake recipe that will make 6 – 8 mini, petite, cakes depending on how you cut the cake. If you would like to increase the batch, simply select 2x or 3x in the recipe below. This recipe will automatically be calculated for the larger size.

    Frosting – I created a small frosting recipe that matches the size of the cakes, minus any exterior frosting. If you prefer a larger batch, simply select 2x or 3x in the recipe below.

    Choosing the correct pan – I recommend using a small cake pan or pan with individual pans. The individual pans would reduce waste and ensure a consistent size.

    Choosing the shape and mold – You will most likely want to cut the cake into the desired shape. I used two shapes, a heart, and a circle. For the heart shape, I used a cookie cutter and for the circle, I used a small biscuit cutter. If you do not have a cutter, you can use a mug or small bowl to achieve the round shape.

    Cake scraps – After you cut the cake there will be lots of scraps leftover. Rather than throwing away the cake scraps, you can freeze them for up to 30 days. There are many different ways to use leftover cake scraps that taste and look delicious. Below I listed a couple of my favorite ways to use leftover cake scarps that are easy and family-friendly.

    • Cake Truffles –
      • Place the cake scraps in a mixer using the paddle attachment.
      • Add a small amount of frosting to bind the scraps together.
      • Mix at a low to medium speed until all the ingredients are mixed together.
      • Use an ice cream scooper or a spoon to scoop out the batter, then roll the batter into a ball. The is the foundation of your cake truffle.
      • Prepare bowls, one with chocolate and one with something crunchy, to roll the cake truffle in (ex. nuts, sprinkles, etc.)
      • Melt the chocolate in the microwave on low power in 20-second bursts. (Always use low power and short bursts to avoid burning the chocolate.)
      • Wearing gloves, roll the cake truffle in chocolate and then in something crunchy.
      • Set the cake truffle on parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set.

    • Cake Shake –
      • Place the pieces of cake, ice cream, milk, and other shake ingredients in a blender.
      • Blend.
      • You know have a cake shake!
    Mini Red Velvet Cakes
    Mini Red Velvet Cakes

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 6, Show Stopper – Petite Fours

    YEA!!! One more bake to go and I have completed the first season!

    About this bake… I have made many red velvet cakes and I love them! For this bake, I planned to use a sheet pan to maximize the number of cake cut-outs and to reduce the amount of cake wasted. I used a recipe from Milk Bar that called for ‘cake flour’. While I searched, I could not find cake flour at the stores near me. I searched and found a workaround to remove 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. This was supposed to be the equivalent of cake flour. However, three failed attempts later (not bitter), I decided to go with good old-fashioned all-purpose flour. The result was a perfect red velvet cake.

    I am not exactly sure why the corn starch did not work. I think it could have been the age of the corn starch or the altitude in Denver. Someday, when I am less frustrated, I research what happened. However, for now, I am just going to stick with good old all-purpose flour.


    Count: 15 down, 263 to go!

    Red Velvet Mini Cakes

    Mini Red Velvet Cakes (Petit Fours)

    Two mini red velvet cakes sandwiched between sweet cream cheese frosting and filled with fresh strawberry jam, an Americana twist on petit fours. (I don't know about you, but my mouth is already watering.)
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 20 mins
    Cook Time 25 mins
    Cooling/frosting Time 40 mins
    Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American, French
    Servings 4 people

    Ingredients
      

    Strawberry Filling

    • 4 oz strawberries
    • 4 oz sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon

    Frosting

    Decoration

    • Chocolate heart, square, etc. (Optional)

    Instructions
     

    Strawberry Filling

    • Quarter each strawberry. Place the strawberries and lemon in a heavy bottom saucepan. Cook over low heat for a few minutes to soften the strawberries.
    • Add the sugar and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
    • Once the sugar has dissolved into a clear liquid, bring it to a boil and boil for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
    • Refrigerate to set.

    Red Velvet Cake

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan.
    • Mix the buttermilk and vinegar and set aside.
    • In a large bowl, mix well the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients. Set aside.
    • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the red food coloring.
    • Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/vinegar mixture, ending with the dry ingredients. In this step, mix the ingredients just enough to incorporate. Over mixing will flatten the cake.
    • Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. When done cooking removes the cake and allow it to fully cool.

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    • Add in the vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar and whip to combine, about 2 minutes more.

    Assembly

    • Once the cake has cooled, use a cookie cutter or template to cut into the desired shape. Then, carefully, cut each cut piece in half. Use caution not to cut your hand.
    • Prepare the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a dot tip. (I used a size similar to Wilton 10 round tip).
    • Pipe a tight ring of dot tips around the perimeter of each mini cake.
    • Fill the center, inside of the frosting, of each mini cake with the strawberry jam.
    • Place the top, the other half, of each mini cake on top.
    • Pipe decoration on top of each mini cake and place decoration on top as desired.

    Notes

    Recipe notes:
    • I made this recipe small and makes 4 – 6 small cakes. If you would like a larger batch, select to multiply the recipe in the upper right-hand corner. You can increase the size by 2x or 3x.
    • When mixing the dry cake ingredients, spend extra time mixing very well.  All ingredients should be blended and there should be no cocoa clumps. Use a sifter if you prefer.
    • I used 1 full tablespoon of red gel food coloring to achieve this color of red. If you’re using regular red food coloring you will need to at least double the amount used, maybe more, depending on the manufacturer 
    • I used homemade jam, however, it’s easy to swap out with store-bought jam if you prefer. 
    • For the jam, I used measurements vs volume. I chose this method because strawberries and sugar are very different in terms of volume. The measurement method ensures you get a great result every time. 
    • When making the jam if you want to test if the jam has set, spoon a little onto a cold plate, leave for a minute. Move the jam with your finger and if the jam crinkles and separates without flooding back, the setting point has been reached.
    Keyword Cake, Mini, petit fours, Red Velvet
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

    Note: This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

    If you like coffee and chocolate you are in for a delight!
    These chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream are moist, rich and the perfect marriage of flavors.

    Chocolate cupcake. Doesn’t that bring a smile to your face? Cho-co-oooo-late cupcake. I just had to do it. 🙂

    The nice thing about cupcakes they are made in 30 minutes from start to finish, the only kitchen special equipment required is a mixer and a cupcake tin. If you are looking for either option, click here for a handheld or stand-up mixer. Click here if you need a cupcake tin.

    One more thing, I just realized I have a chocolate and espresso fascination. Or is it the perfect flavor combination and I just can’t get enough of it? If you want more chocolate and espresso treats, check out my chocolate macarons with espresso. They are amazing!

    Ok, on to making cupcakes….

    Tricks to Making a Great Chocolate Cupcake

    These chocolate cupcakes are so rich and so moist by design. To achieve this, I used my three favorite secrets for baking anything thing chocolate: espresso powder, hot liquid, and vegetable oil. I use these three secrets every time I bake a chocolate cake or cupcake, and every time they come out perfect!

    Trick One: Add a little bit of espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor. I know what you’re thinking, we’re making espresso buttercream so is that really a secret? Yes! It is the secret to achieving a rich chocolate flavor in baked goods. Not espresso flavor, but chocolate. Espresso powder adds a deep and complex flavor that enhances the chocolate flavor but does not taste like espresso (or coffee).

    Trick Two: Two minutes before placing the batter in the oven, add boiling water. When hot water is stirred well into chocolate batter and dissolves any cocoa powder clumps. During this time, the liquid thickens and releases flavor particles within the powder. This is called “blooming”. This technique only works with cocoa powder and will take your chocolate cupcakes to the next level. (Pinky swear!)

    Trick Three: Vegetable oil, yep, you need it for a super moist cupcake. As a bit of a food snob, it’s a really hard thing for me to buy. However, vegetable oil is a must for a moist cupcake. I actually feel better now, like I said that out loud better.

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

    Beginner Tips to Frosting a Dramatic Cupcake

    Let me start by saying I am not an expert on frosting. In fact, far from it. For most of my life, I just scrapped frosting off because I did not like it. However once I tasted homemade frosting, I liked it so much better. While I like frosting, turns out I am really bad at using a pasty bag. To improve my skills, I watched many, many videos and practiced before I took these pictures. Below are the lessons I learned to get to this point. If you are needing help read along.

    Also, when I designed the recipe I decided on a mild espresso flavor. I wanted the frosting to compliment the rich chocolate cupcake and not detract from it. If you prefer a stronger flavor, just add more espresso powder.

    For these cupcakes I went for a dramatic look. To achieve this I did the following:

    Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream with Sprinkles

    Steps for Frosting a Dramatic Cupcake

    1. Start with placing the tip inside the piping bag (yeah, really, I did know that when I first used a piping bag).
      • If you’re using a coupler, place the coupler base inside the piping bag, place the tip on the outside of the bag and screw the ring into place.
    2. Place the unfilled bag into a tall drinking glass or a jar. Then fold the top of the piping bag around the glass and fill the base with frosting.
    3. Push the icing all the way down, work any air bubbles out and twist the bag closed. This step purges the air from the bag and forces the frosting into the tip.
    4. Place your dominant hand around the top of the bag. Use this hand to squeeze the frosting. Because the frosting is stiff you might need two hands to squeeze the frosting out. However only squeeze the bag from the top. Squeezing from another place could result in air bubbles.
    5. Because we are going to use the flower tip, use a 90-degree angle, meaning hold the bag straight up.
    6. Using your dominant hand from the top of the bag, squeeze a dollop of frosting in the center of the cupcake. Without breaking the stroke, move the frosting bag to the outside of the dollop and frost the perimeter of the dollop.
    7. Using a continuous movement, continue to pipe in a circle slightly inward. Continue piping, moving inward with each rotation for three full rotations. Once you reach the tip, place a small dollop to close the circle. Then release the pressure and pull the bag away.

      For additional resources, I recommend visiting the Wilton website. This video really helped me learn techniques and improve my piping skills.

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 6, Signature Cupcakes

    I loved this challenge, but mostly because it did not hurt my brain. It was a lot of fun to make cupcakes, super simple and super good. However, during the process, I learned a lot about frosting. Being someone who is a stronger cook than a baker, I tend to just add ingredients. I think this is the solution to any kitchen recipe. However, with frosting, adding just a teaspoon of one ingredient can change the consistency from thick to medium. Another teaspoon with changing the consistency from medium to thin. Turns out with frosting, just adding ingredients was not my smartest move.

    While not my smartest move, I am glad I learned something as easy as a cupcake. It was very simple for me to make another batch and start again. Three times to be exact.

    Count: 14 down, 264 to go!

    Chocolate Macarons with Espresso
    Chocolate macarons with espresso are melt in your mouth nuggets of French perfection!
    Check out this recipe
    Chocolate Macarons with Espresso
    Chocolate Cupcakes

    Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

    Rich chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream are the perfect marriage of flavors. The buttercream has just a hint of espresso, providing a perfect subtle complement.
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 15 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American
    Servings 12 cupcakes

    Equipment

    • Mixer (handheld or stand)
    • Two mixing bowls
    • Muffin Tin
    • Muffin Cups
    • Whisk
    • Piping bag
    • Large flower drop piping tip (Ex. Wilton 2D)

    Ingredients
      

    ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM

    Instructions
     

    CUPCAKES

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    • Prepare the cupcake tin with liners.
    • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Using a whisk, mix all the ingredients well. These are your dry ingredients.
    • In a separate mixing bowl whisk the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla together. These are your wet ingredients.
    • Combine the wet and dry ingredients together. This is your batter.
    • Add the boiling/hot water to your batter, mix well, and let stand for 1- 2 minutes. Your batter will be thin.
    • Pour the batter into the tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking you can begin making the frosting.
    • Remove and allow cupcakes to fully cool before adding frosting.

    ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM

    • Using the mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy.
    • Add the confectioner's sugar, slowly, one cup at a time.
    • Add the vanilla and espresso powder.
    • Add the buttercream to the piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

    Notes

    When making the cupcakes:
    • You will want to add very hot water or boiling water and allow the batter to stand for one to two minutes.  This step helps to dissolve any cocoa powder clumps and helps make a moist cupcake.
    • When I wrote the recipe, I added a long cooking time. This is because I live at a high altitude and the cooking time is slightly different. To see if your cupcake is done you can try one of two methods:
      • Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, you’re done.
      • Gently tap the top of the cupcake and if the cupcake springs back with no indentation, you’re done.
     
    When making the espresso buttercream:
    • I increased the buttercream to accommodate a dramatic frosting. If this is more frosting than you would like, feel free to adjust the recipe down. Here is an adjusted down recipe I recommend:
      • 1 cup butter
      • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
    I hope you enjoy it! If you like this recipe, please let me know and give me a good rating. 
    Thank you!
    Ruth
    Keyword Buttercream, Chocolate, Chocolate Cupcake, Cupcake, Espresso
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    How to Make Perfect Empanada Dough

    How to Make Perfect Empanada Dough

    Note: This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

    Wanna know how to make a perfect empanada? I have the recipe for you!
    This recipe can hold all of your empanada fillings, but not take away from the flavor.
    All while having no soggy bottoms!



    I just discovered the culinary joy that is empanadas. I literally cannot believe that I have lived this long and I never heard of an empanada, until Maria Empanada opened near my home. I am now completely obsessed with this little pocket that can be filled with so many amazing flavors.

    What is an Empanada?

    Empanada comes from the Spanish word empanar, which means to coat or wrap in bread. The recipes are closely guarded family secrets and can vary from household to household. However, one thing all recipes have in common is the dough is rolled out, filled, and then folded over into a half-moon shape and baked or fried.

    Empanada Dough Nine on a Plate
    Empanada Dough – Nine on a Plate

    Let’s talk Empanada Dough

    In researching how to make an empanada, I came across many recipes that were similar to pie dough. Actually, they were the same as basic pie dough. The result was a dry and flaky empanada where the flavor of the dough was stronger than the filling. I did not like the result and wished for a dough closer to the dough at Maria Empanada.

    I kept going back to the drawing board. Researching different fillings and watching interviews with the owner of Maria Empanada to determine why her empanada shell was different. The best I could tell was that she incorporated margarine and baking powder while removing vinegar, from her recipe. This seemed to be very different than any other empanada recipe I could find.

    It took a few tries, but I developed a dough recipe that forms a nice shell, has a bit of a crunch, and complements any empanada filling. This dough is different from Maria’s because I have added sugar and warm milk. However, I felt it was just perfect and I am very excited by how it tastes and holds up against soggy bottoms.:)

    Empanada Dough Four on a Plate
    Empanada Dough – Four on a Plate

    How to Make Empanada Dough

    First gather all your ingredients. Most of them you will already probably have in your kitchen.

    • 1/2 cup margarine
    • 1 large egg yoke
    • I large egg (optional)
    • 3/4 cup warm milk
    1. Using a whisk, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. These are your dry ingredients.
    2. Add the margarine into your dry ingredients and mix until the flour resembles bread crumbs.
    3. Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts until the dough starts to form.
    4. Wrap in cling wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
    5. Remove the dough and roll out to 1/8 on an inch thickness. Cut the dough into circles. The size of your empanada depends on personal preference and what you are cooking. Here is the general rule of thumb I use when making empanadas.
      • Appetizer empanada – use a pastry mat or a bowl, cut the dough into 6-inch rounds.
      • Main course empanada – use a pastry mat or a plate, cut the dough into 8-inch rounds.
      • Dessert empanada – use a drinking glass to cut about 3-inch rounds.
    6. Fill empanada with the desired filling/s.
    7. Fold in half and pinch into shape. For a traditional look, you can press your fork into the dough where you just pinched the dough together.
    8. For a golden shinny look brush with a beaten egg. This is called an egg wash.
    9. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.


    Empanada Filling Ideas

    The fillings are incredibly vestal. You name it, you can make it into an empanada. Examples include:

    • Breakfast: Eggs, potatoes, bacon, etc.
    • Argentinian: Steak, red bell peppers, hard-boiled eggs, green onions, green olives
    • Meat: Ham and cheese
    • Meat : Pizza – Cheese, marinara and pepperoni
    • Vegetarian: Corn, bell pepper, and cheese
    • Vegetarian: Spinach and parmesan cheese
    • Vegetarian: Pizza – Cheese, olives, and marinara
    • Dessert: S’mores – Chocolate and marshmallow
    • Dessert: Nutella (there is nothing better than Nutella)
    • Sauces: Empanadas can be served with or without sauce. Choose a sauce that goes with your filling. I love southwest fillings and used Authentic New Mexico Red Chile sauce with my corn empanada. My Colorado Style Green Chile recipe would also make a great sauce.

    The combinations are endless. As a general rule if you like it in the form of a burrito, pizza, samosa, or hot pocket then I bet you will also like it as an empanada.

    Empanada Dough Inside an Empanada
    Empanada Dough Inside a Corn and Authentic New Mexican Red Chile Sauce Empanada


    Amazon Links/Affinity Links
    (An affinity link means at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase I will earn a small commission.)

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 5, Technical – Cornish Pasty/Empanada

    I was so excited to take on this challenge because it gave me a great excuse to make my current obsession, an empanada. How are an empanada and a Cornish pastry related you ask? Well, it turns out that an empanada is very similar to a Cornish pasty. What surprised me was that many cultures have similar versions of a Cornish Pasty/Empanada. What they all have in common is they are a pastry that is folded in half and baked. Traditionally these pastries are made with meat. Thankfully there are many vegetarian versions that taste great, dare I even say better?

    The most challenging part of this challenge was finding the right dough. So many of the recipes are really pie doughs. That type of dough is much drier than what I am used to eating at the empanada store by my home. When I could not find the right dough recipe I watched many videos and ultimately created my own. I was excited about this challenge and I am proud of the outcome.

    Count: 13 down, 265 to go!

    The Ultimate Antioxidant Detox Salad
    This ultimate antioxidant detox salad has every color in the rainbow, is very nutrient-dense, incredibly delicious, and whole-food nutritious.
    Check out this recipe
    Ultimate Antioxidant Detox Salad - Finished
    Empanada Dough Close Up

    How to Make Perfect Empanada Dough

    How to make the perfect empanada dough that can hold all of your fillings, but not take away from the flavor, while having no soggy bottoms!
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 25 mins
    resting time 1 hr
    Course Appetizer, Dessert, Main Course
    Cuisine American, argentinian, hispanic, spanish
    Servings 6 people

    Equipment

    • No special equipment needed

    Ingredients
      

    Instructions
     

    • Using a whisk, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar to fully incorporate all ingredients. These are your dry ingredients.
    • Cut the margarine into small pieces and using your hand's mix margarine into the dry ingredients. The result should look like bread crumbs.
    • Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts until the dough starts to form.
    • Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with the heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring the dough together.
    • Flatten the dough into a disk, then wrap in cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least1 an hour.
    • Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired circles using a pastry mat, bowl, plate, or glass. See notes for circle size suggestions.
    • Fill empanada with the desired filling/s and then fold in half and pinch into shape.
    • Whisk an egg and brush the top of the empanada with an egg wash for a shiny golden look.
    • Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

    Notes

    The size of your empanada depends on personal preference and what you are cooking. Here is the general rule of thumb I use when making empanada’s I use the following guidelines.
    • Appetizer empanada – use a pastry mat or a bowl, cut the dough into 6-inch rounds.
    • Main course empanada – use a pastry mat or a plate, cut the dough into 8-inch rounds.
    • Dessert empanada – use a drinking glass to cut about 3-inch rounds.  
    * Depending on the size of empanada you make will determine the number of servings.  To increase the recipe size, click on the desired multiplier in the upper right-hand corner of the recipe.
    * The traditional shape of an empanada is a folded circle. However, there are many different ways to shape the dough. I like to make dessert Nutella empanada’s that look like dumplings. Bottom line, have fun making different shapes.
    Keyword Empanada, empanada dough, How to make empanada’s, vegetarian
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Vegetarian Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Thyme

    Vegetarian Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Thyme

    Disclosure: Some of the posts on this blog may contain affinity links. Meaning at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase I will earn a small commission.

    This rich and wholesome vegetarian pot pie is filled with a mushroom gravy in a homemade flaky crust. It’s so good, it’s worth all the carbs!

    To me, winter is all about warm cozy comfort foods and I can’t think of many foods that are more warm and cozy than a vegetarian pot pie! This particular pot pie is filled with rich mushroom gravy and served in a flaky crust. The flavors are warm, wholesome, and certainly not low carb. But I promise it is worth all the carbs!

    You can make this recipe over the course of an afternoon or in stages throughout a couple of days. It’s really up to you and how much time you have. I chose to make this over a couple of days and I loved the slower process.

    Also, this vegetarian pot pies recipe might look longer and more complicated than it really is. That is because when I write out the instructions I try to be very detailed and take them step by step.  This is how I like to read instructions. If you are reading this and you feel the instructions are too much or unnecessarily long, kindly let me know.  I would love your feedback! 

    Vegetarian Pot Pie Variations

    I made this pot pie as part of my personal Great British Baking Show challenge. Within that challenge, I made the pie dough from scratch. It’s not as much work as you might think, but I totally get why you would prefer an alternative. Below are a couple of variations on crusts and bakeware that you can use to modify the recipe to fit your lifestyle.

    Variations Crusts

    When it comes to baking pies there are several different ways to crust a pie. For these instructions, I am writing out two basic pot pie variations, double-crusted and top-crusted.

    • Variation #1, Double crusted – the bottom and the top of the pie are crusted. A traditional American apple pie is an example of double-crusted pies.
    • Variation #2, Top crust – Just the top of the pie has a crust. A skillet meat or pot pie would be an example.

    I chose to make to my mushroom pot pie double crusted. The upside was I had the rich pot pie I was craving. However the down side was it only made three pot pies. If you would like a larger pot pie I recommend making the gravy and adding extra fillings in a skillet. Than baking the pot pie with just a top crust in the oven.

    Variations – Types of Crusts

    Here are a couple of pie variations to choose from:

    1. Make the crust using the recipe below. The upside is this crust is homemade with no preservatives or funky ingredients.
    2. Buy a frozen pie crust at the store. If your a vegetarian check the ingredients. Often these crusts are made with lard.
    3. Use a phyllo dough as a crust. You can use phyllo dough on top or as a double-crusted pie. Be sure to use butter or cooking spray in between the layers for the full flake.
    4. Top with store-bought biscuits or my homemade Perfect Biscuit Recipe

    Variations – Individual Pot Pie Bakeware Options

    If you are like me you don’t have tons of random bakeware sitting around for that one time you bake something. In those instances, you have a couple of options.

    • Ramekins – Large ceramic ramekins work great for this. Depending on your preference you can top or double-crust your pot pie
    • Ceramic bakeware – There are many options on Amazon, such as these or these. You can also try your luck at a thrift store. The ceramic pots in the picture I found at Good Will for $2 each and I love them.
    • Enameled cast ironed dutch ovens – I would recommend using a 1.5-quart pot for this recipe. There are lots of cute options on Amazon.
    • Tinfoil – If your not sure you want to invest in bakeware I totally understand. There are always the tin foil options such as these.

    Amazon Affinity Links

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 5, Showstopper – Pastry

    I am so excited to reach the pasty point in the challenge. I have always wanted to make the pastry, but I was too afraid to try. After watching 10 seasons of the Great British Baking Show, I knew I could successfully make a pastry, I just needed a reason to try.

    When this challenge came around I was so excited to roll my sleeves up. I spent weeks researching the perfect savory pie. Being a vegetarian I felt as though I was limited. Then, I decided to make a mushroom pot pie. I was so excited about this recipe that I no longer felt limited.

    When I sat down to eat, I could not believe how good this mushroom pot pie was. Like as in the best thing I can remember eating in ages. It did take a lot of time to make, but that was because I had my heart set on trying a recipe I found in Bon Appetit. The recipe was complex. I took my time and made it over three days. I am glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

    Even better, no soggy bottoms!



    Count: 12 down, 266 to go!

    Baked Oatmeal with Banana and Nutella
    Baked oatmeal with banana and Nutella is so easy to make, it just takes ingredients you probably already have, one bowl, and 25 minutes the oven. After that, you can enjoy oatmeal bars all week. How is that for easy meal planning?
    Check out this recipe
    Baked Oatmeal - four bars in rows of two
    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake
    This Mint Chocolate Lava Cake combines the warm gooey chocolate richness of a lava cake with a refreshing cool taste of mint. This recipe can be made for 2, 4, or 6 people.
    Check out this recipe
    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake Birthday Happiness 2
    Two vegetarian pot pie's with Mushrooms and Thyme

    Vegetarian Pot Pies with Mushrooms and Thyme

    This rich and wholesome vegetarian pot pie is filled with a mushroom gravy in a homemade flaky crust. It is so good, it is worth all the carbs!
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 45 mins
    Cook Time 2 hrs
    Course Main Course
    Cuisine American
    Servings 2 people

    Equipment

    • Oven-safe skillet, ramekins, or other individual pot pie containers such as tin foil, small ceramic bowls, small enameled cast iron, etc.)

    Ingredients
      

    Pie Crust/Dough

    Mushroom Gravy

    Filling

    • 1/2 bulb fennel
    • 1 cup pearl onions – peeled
    • 3 tbsp unsalted butter – divided
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 sprigs thyme
    • 8 oz oyster or wild mushroom combination

    Assembly

    Instructions
     

    Step One: Pie Crust/Dough

    • Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl to ensure even distribution of salt throughout the flour.
    • Work in butter with your fingers until only pea-size pieces remain.
      *You will want to do this quickly to ensure the butter stays cold. The cold butter creates the flakes in the dough.
    • Combine egg, vinegar, and â…“ cup ice water in a small bowl and drizzle over flour mixture. You will want to work quickly. the dough should be shaggy.
    • Move the shaggy dough to a work surface. Work just enough to form a ball with no dry spots. Be careful not to overwork the dough and fully incorporate the butter.
      Vegetarian Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Thyme, shaggy dough
    • Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
    • The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

    Step Two: Mushroom Gravy

    • Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
    • Add the onion and cook until they are very soft, about 10-12 minutes.
    • Stir in the tomato paste until the onions are completely coated. Cook for an additional minute.
    • Add button mushrooms and cook 12–15 minutes. During this time only stir the mushrooms 2 – 3 times, allowing them to brown.
    • Add sherry and cook for five minutes, until the sherry has almost completely evaporated.
    • Add the vegetable broth and porcini mushrooms and cook for one hour, until the liquids have reduced by half.
    • Pour the mushrooms into a strainer, separating the mushrooms from the liquid. Press down on the mushrooms to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of them. Then discard the mushrooms and save the liquid broth.
      Vegetarian Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Thyme, mushroom separate
    • Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
    • Using a whisk, continually whisk in flour to avoid lumps until there is a nutty smell, about 4 minutes.
    • USE CAUTION HERE: Slowly add 1/4 mushroom broth. The flour and butter mixture will rapidly increase bubbling. Continue to add in the remaining mushroom broth slowly while whisking vigorously.
      *This step is similar to making caramel.
    • Simmer for one minute and then remove from heat.
    • Mushroom gravy can be in a refrigerator in an air-tight container for three days.

    Step Three: Filling and Assembly

    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine, fennel, pearl onions, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 cup of water, a dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and cover for 5 minutes.
    • Uncover and cook for 15 – 18 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Let cool
    • Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium.
    • Add thyme sprigs and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and tender, 6–8 minutes. Let cool and remove the thyme.
    • Mix mushroom gravy in with the filling. This will be referred to as the filling below.

    Variation #1 – Double Crusted Pot Pies

    • Beat the large egg and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
    • Lightly dust a flat surface.
    • Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
    • Divide the dough and filling according to the number of pie dishes you wish to fill.
    • For each pie, roll the dough into two pieces, one to form the bottom and the sides and the other to go on top. The dough should be an 1/4 inch thickness and about 1/2 an inch larger for both pieces.
      Vegetarian Pot Pie with Mushrooms and Thyme, Pot Pie Dough
    • Place the dough around the inside of the individual pie dish and leave the 1/2 hanging over the side.
    • Fill the inside of the pot pie with the gravy mushroom filling mixture.
    • Top the the pie with the second piece of rolled-out dough and then pinch the sides together.
    • Cut the three to four vent slats in the top.
    • Repeat until all pies are filled.
    • Set pot pies on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crusts are golden brown and domed. About 25–35 minutes.
    • This recipe should make 2 – 3 double-crusted pies depending on the size of the bakeware.

    Variation #2 – Top Crusted Pot Pies

    • Beat the large egg and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
    • Lightly dust a flat surface.
    • Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
    • Roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness.
    • Place the filling in an oven-proof skillet.
    • Top the skillet with the rolled-out dough. You can cramp the edges for a visual look.
    • Cut three to four slats in the top of the dough to vent the heat.
    • Bake at 425 for 25 – 35 minutes, until the top is domed and golden brown.

    Notes

    This recipe might look longer and more complicated than it really is. It is because when I write out the instructions I try to be very detailed and write it line by line. This is how I like to read instructions. If you are reading this and you feel the instructions are too much or unnecessary kindly let me know.  I would love your feedback!
    There are shortcuts with the dough you can take (see the post above).
    When making the top crust option you might need to add additional mushrooms to the filling.
    Recipe credit: Bon Appetit. https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushroom-thyme-pot-pies
    Keyword bon appetit, mushroom and thyme pot pie, mushroom pot pie, pot pie, vegetarian mushroom pot pie, vegetarian pot pie
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Baked Oatmeal Bars with Banana’s and Nutella

    Baked Oatmeal Bars with Banana’s and Nutella

    Baked oatmeal bars with banana and Nutella is so easy to make, it just takes ingredients
    you probably already have one bowl and 25 minutes in the oven.
    After that, you can enjoy oatmeal bars all week. How is that for easy meal planning?

    If you’re new to baked oatmeal it is just another way of cooking this amazing grain. Similar to overnight oats, the flavors are completely customizable to your personal preference. For this recipe, I used two of my favorites, bananas, and Nutella. However, if yore not a fan of Nutella, no problem, just swap it out for peanut butter. If your not in the mood for bananas, no problem. Just swamp 1/2 cup of applesauce for each banana. If you like nuts, go ahead and add them. The combinations are endless.

    The best part about baked oatmeal, it can prepared the day before and can stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. So the next day when you wake up, a healthy oatmeal breakfast is ready to go and you do not have to wait! It’s also a great breakfast option for meal planning. It can easily be made on your meal prep day and eaten all week. I don’t know if it gets any better than a week’s worth of healthy breakfasts for less than ten minutes of work.

    Let’s Get Started Making Baked Oatmeal Bars

    First you will want to gather your ingredients. The best thing, most of these you probably already have in your home.

    Ingredients for Baked Oatmeal Bars with Banana’s and Nutella

    • Nutella (1/2 cup)
    • Banana’s (2 mashed/2 for toppings)
    • Whole or Quick Oats (2.5 cups)
    • Brown Sugar (1/4 cup)
    • Milk (1/2 cup)
    • Vanilla (1 tsp)
    • Egg (1)
    • Baking Powder (1 tsp)
    • Salt (1 tsp)
    • Cinnamon (1/2 tsp)

    Mixing Oatmeal with Banana’s and Nutella

    To mix the ingredients start with the banana. In the pictures below I used my mixer, however for this recipe a mixer is not necessary. Here are the two different ways you can mash bananas.

    • To mash the banana’s in the mixer, turn the mixer onto a low to medium speed with the beater attachment for 1 – 2 minutes.
    • To mash with your hands, make sure the bananas are very ripe and squish between your fingers until you reach a smooth consistency.

    Once the bananas have been mashed, mix in the rest of the ingredients either using your mixer or by hand with a spatula. After the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, pour them into a parchment-lined baking dish. The pour will be thick (see below). Once poured, bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 28 minutes.

    Once baked, removed the oatmeal from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes. Then place in the refrigerator for one-two hours. This will allow the oatmeal to become firm and easier to cut.

    Because I prefer to bake oatmeal the day before, I leave this dish in the refrigerator overnight. Before eating top as desired with banana, strawberries, apples, peaches warmed Nutella, etc. (The strawberries I used below are dried.) Get creative here and have fun coming up with different toppings!

    Baked Oatmeal - up close
    Baked Oatmeal with Nutella and Banana’s


    Recommended Products (affinity links)

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 4, Showstopper – Puddings

    Hear me out, I know this is a pudding challenge. However, in this episode, the bakers could make a crumble, bread, or suet. Suet was totally out of the question, I would not make something out of animal fat. Bread always sounds good, but I have made a lot of that lately and wanted to bake something else. So that left me with crumble. I know I did take some liberties with the interpenetration of a crumble becoming baked oatmeal. But in all fairness, crumbles are made out of oats and this is a personal challenge. So I took the extra liberties and went with it.

    On the upside, now that I am down with puddings I can move on to pastry! I have never made pastry before and I am very excited to try my first “rough puff”. So next up, mushroom and thyme pot pie! Even better, I don’t have to think about a pudding until season 3, episode 6.

    Count: 11 down, 267 to go!

    Festive Dark Chocolate Bark with Strawberries and Almonds
    This festive holiday dark chocolate bark with strawberries and almonds is the perfect blend of rich, sweet and salty.
    Check out this recipe
    Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Bark

    Baked Oatmeal - four bars in rows of two

    Baked Oatmeal with Banana and Nutella

    Baked oatmeal with banana and Nutella is so easy to make, it just takes ingredients you probably already have, one bowl, and 25 minutes the oven. After that, you can enjoy oatmeal bars all week. How is that for easy meal planning?
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 25 mins
    Refrigerator time 2 hrs
    Course Breakfast
    Cuisine American

    Ingredients
      

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
    • Take two bananas and mash them.
    • Add all other ingredients to the mashed bananas and mix well.
    • Line a 9×12 baking dish with parchment paper
    • Place dish in the heated oven for 25 – 28 minutes.
    • Allow the oatmeal to cool and then place it in the refrigerator for two hours before cutting.
    • Cut and top with the remaining bananas and/or other desired toppings.

    Notes

    Baked oatmeal with bananas and Nutella is very easy to make.  I used a mixer, however, you can easily mix the ingredients by hand.  There is no fancy equipment necessary.
    The baking time is based on using a 9×12 baking dish.  The baking time could vary depending on the size of your baking dish.  This size produced bars that were about 1.25 inches thick
    Keyword Baked Oatmeal, Banana, Nutella, Oatmeal, Oats
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

    Mint Chocolate  Lava Cake Recipe

    This Mint Chocolate Lava Cake recipe combines the warm gooey chocolate
    the richness of a lava cake with a refreshing cool taste of mint.
    This recipe can be made for 2, 4, or 6 people.

    Lava cakes are the perfect cake. They are served fresh out of the oven with a flow of warm chocolate in the center. Even better, they are mixed and baked in 30 minutes! For this version, I added mint chocolate chips. The mint adds a cool refreshing twist to this classic cake!


    Let’s Talk Mint

    Mint has a cool refreshing taste that is good year-round, particularly in the winter. It just adds a nice cool pop of flavor that goes along with the season! However, mint is one of those flavors that can easily overpower or taste artificial. When baking, I avoid the liquid mint flavors. A little goes a long way and it’s very easy to overpower any recipe with just a couple of drops. Instead, I prefer to use baking chips. As I am writing this it is just before Christmas and Target is stocked with all kinds of fun baking chip flavors including mint chocolate.

    For this recipe, I used Andres Mint Chips. They are currently in stock at Target and Walmart or you can find them year round on Amazon. I do have to warn you though, Andres Mint Baking Chips are addictive. If you buy a bag of them, you might just turn the corner and see this…

    If your lucky to have enough mint baking chips leftover, you only need 2/3 of a cup for this recipe. I recommend adjusting how many chips to use based on your personal preference.

    Deciding how Much Mint to Use

    When I first made this mint chocolate lava cake I used a full 2/3 of a cup. However, between four people we were divided. Two thought it was just right and two thought the mint was overpowering and detracted from the overall flavor of the lava cake.

    The next time I made the cake I used 1/2 of a cup of mint chips and 1/4 of a cup of chocolate chips. This combination gave the mint flavor without tasting artificial. I would adjust the use of chips depending on how strong you like the mint flavor. Here are some ratio’s you can use to adjust the flavor.

    • For a strong mint flavor use 2/3 cup of mint baking chips
    • For a medium mint flavor use 1/2 cup of mint baking chips + 1/4 cup chocolate chips
    • For a mild mint flavor use 1/2 cup of chocolate chips + 1/4 cup mint baking chips


    Getting Prepared to make Mint Chocolate Lava Cake

    To get started you will want to gather your ingredients. the list below is for two people. Simply double or triple the recipe depending on how many lava cakes you are baking. (The recipe card below will calculate this for you. All you need to do is click on the correct number in the upper right-hand corner.)

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
    • 2/3 cup of chips (mint + chocolate combo using the preference chart above.)
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg yoke
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 tbsp coco powder or flour for dusting

    Equipment:

    • Medium mixing bowl
    • 2 – 6 ramekins or muffin tin
    • Whisk

    Once you have measured the ingredients, use the butter wrapper or cooking spray to grease the ramekins. Then using the cocoa powder or flour, lightly dust the ramekins. This step is necessary for the lava cake to release from the ramekin after baking.


    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake Baking Steps (only four!)


    Step one: Using the microwave, melt the butter and baking chips together in 20 – 30 second increments.

    Once melted, use a whisk to fully combine the butter and baking chips


    Step two: Whisk in the powdered sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and flour just enough to mix the ingredients.

    Note: at this stage, it’s very easy to over mix. The result will be a flatter lava cake.


    Step three: Pour mixture into ramekins or muffin tins and bake at 425 until the edges are firm and the center soft.

    • If you use the ramekins bake for 12 – 14 minutes.
    • If you use a muffin tin bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

    Step four: Remove from the oven and allow lava cake to stand for one minute then serve.

    • If you used a ramekin invert and serve.
    • If you used a muffin tin use a spoon to remove it.

      No worries if your lava cakes fall apart in the process. Lava cakes are always delish and the smiling faces (like this one) are always worth it!

    Great British Baking Show Bake
    Season 1, Episode 4, Technical Challenge – Puddings

    Looking at my recent pages, I have written six non GBBO posts since my first pudding challenge. The current technical challenge is actually Mary Berry’s Lemon Souffle. I have been trying to find the desire to make this dish. However, there were two reasons I was dragging my feet on baking a lemon souffle.

    1. It’s winter here (December 14th) and eating anything lemon just does not feel right with Christmas right around the corner.

    2. If I am being honest, nothing about a soufflé sounds good to me. I know I should probably try to make one and give it a fair shot. However, it just sounds like something my dad would have paired with an ambrosia salad in the ’70s. That alone is enough to make me not want to make one.

    In time I will try a souffle, but not today. So after much thought, I went with a lava cake. It does fall into the pudding category and is a semi-baked souffle. It requires much of the same skills and I knew I would enjoy baking it.

    Count: 10 down, 268 to go!

    In the mood for something else?
    Try one of these recipes instead



    Recommended Products (Affinity Links)

    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake Birthday Happiness 2

    Mint Chocolate Lava Cake

    This Mint Chocolate Lava Cake combines the warm gooey chocolate richness of a lava cake with a refreshing cool taste of mint. This recipe can be made for 2, 4, or 6 people.
    No ratings yet
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 14 mins
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine American

    Equipment

    • Mixing bowl
    • Whisk
    • Ramekins or muffin tin

    Ingredients
      

    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 2/3 cup baking chips. Use one of these ratios for desired outcome: * 2/3 cup mint baking chips for the strong mint flavor

      * 1/2 cup mint baking chips +1/4 chocolate chips for the medium mint flavor

      * 1/4 mint baking chips + 1/2 chocolate chips for the mild mint flavor

    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1tbsp cocoa powder or flour for dusting

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
    • Melt the butter and baking chips in the microwave in 30-second bursts.
    • Once melted, use the whisk to fully incorporate the butter and baking chips.
    • Once incorporated, add the powdered sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and flour to the mixture.
      * Mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients and use caution not to over mix.
    • Evenly distribute the ingredients between the ramekins.
    • Bake at 425 until the edges are firm and the center still soft.
      * If you used a ramekin cook for 12 – 14 minutes
      * If your using muffin tins, cook for 8 – 10 minutes.
    • Remove and let stand for 1 minute.
      * If you used a ramekin, invert and serve.
      * If you used a muffin tin use a spoon to release
    Keyword Chocolate Lava Cake, Lava Cake, Mint Chocolate Lava Cake, Personal Birthday Cake
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Festive Dark Chocolate Bark with Strawberries and Almonds

    Festive Dark Chocolate Bark with Strawberries and Almonds

    This festive holiday dark chocolate bark with strawberries
    and almonds is the perfect blend of rich, sweet and salty.

    This bark makes the perfect gift, that is if you can stop yourself from eating it all before you gift it. Spoiler, I ate at least half of my batch, it’s that good!

    The nice thing about bark is you only need a microwave and it takes less than 10 minutes to make. Bark is always a crowd pleaser. In addition it is very versatile. You can create it gazillions of different ways and it always (ok, almost always) tastes great.

    For this bark, use the ingredients you like and substitute or remove the ones you do not like. I choose freeze dried strawberries. However I did spend a long time trying to decide between strawberries, raspberries or strawberry/banana combo. I honestly think any of them would taste great.

    The Chocolate Matters

    Let’s start with the foundation, chocolate. Your chocolate bark will only taste as good as the quality of the chocolate you use. There are lots of options and it’s easy to go broke trying to find the right chocolate. For me, my go to is the Ghirardelli melting wafers. A few of my favorite things about these melting wafers are:

    1. The chocolate melts into a perfect smooth texture.
    2. The final product is shiny, without having to temper (but not perfect tempered shiny).
    3. The chocolates (white, milk and dark) are all very sweet.
    4. They are affordable and always in stock at the store or in bulk at Sam’s Club

    Oh yeah, and they always taste GREAT!

    Melting the Chocolate

    There are two ways to melt the chocolate, in the microwave or in a double boiler. Chocolate melt’s at a very low temperature (100 degrees) and it easy to burn. Here is how to melt chocolate without burning it.

    Microwave

    1. Use a microwave safe dish.
    2. Reduce the power to 50% throughout the process.
    3. Microwave for 45 seconds than stir.
    4. Microwave in 20 – 30 second intervals string between each interval.
    5. If a small amount of chocolate remains un-melted, stir and allow to stand. Use caution not to over microwave, chocolate burns easily.

    Double Boiler

    1. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water.
    2. Use low heat to bring the water to a simmer.
    3. Place your bowl over the simmering water.
    4. Place the wafers in the top bowl and allow time to melt.
    5. Remove from heat when 80% – 90% of the wafers are melted and stir.

    Preparing the Strawberries and Almonds.

    There are two ways to prepare the strawberries and almonds.

    • Strawberries – you can break them into smaller pieces using your hands or in a food processor. I used the food processor, but I will find any excuse to use my mini processor.
    • Almonds – you can buy sliced almonds and break them into smaller pieces using your hands or if you have full sized almonds use the food processor to chop the almonds into smaller pieces.

    Additional Toppings for Chocolate Bark

    While making this, I decided to add sea salt and chocolate chips at the last minute. The sea salt was the perfect addition, just be carful not measure it out before spreading it across the bark (aka, do as I say and not as I did). The chocolate chips were a fun addition, but did not add a lot to the flavor. This is why I wrote them as optional in the recipe below.

    Making Dark Chocolate Bark with Strawberries – Visual Steps