The Best Chocolate Frosting Recipe EVER #baking #Nocciolata

My own creation: Princess Rosebud’s Nocciolata Amaretto Buttercream Frosting.

“This was your best cake EVER” That’s what my family said. It was unanimous. Tugboat man, Angel Boy, DIL. Super chocolate-y and nutty, everything they love.

So Good. So Organic. Creamy, Dreamy Nocciolata.frosting4It’s actually quite simple. Quality ingredients produce superior taste. Only certified organic ingredients go into each jar of creamy, dreamy Nocciolata.

That means no chemicals, no artificial flavors, no GMOs, and absolutely zero palm oil.

nocciolata hazelnutspreadThey use only carefully selected ingredients like dark chocolate from the Antillean Islands, Italian hazelnuts (16%), brown sugar, skim milk, and Bourbon vanilla extract.

Enjoy Nocciolata any time of day. Try it in the morning on toast, or on a crusty bread for a delicious afternoon snack.

***My son’s fave snack is a regular-sized flour tortilla generously spread with Nocciolata. Simply roll and enjoy!

It tastes very similar to Nutella with a well-balanced chocolate and toasted hazelnut flavor, but when it comes to texture, Nocciolata stands alone.

I was sent product to sample and review. As always, I received no compensation, and all opinions are my own.

Nocciolata is the perfect special ingredient for cakes, crepes, cookies, muffins, and many more recipes.

I baked a standard yellow layer cake (from scratch of course) as a canvas for my invention: Princess Rosebud’s Nocciolata Buttercream Frosting.  It was THE BEST.


Princess Rosebud’s Nocciolata Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/3 cup soft butter (this is not vegan but you can use Earth Balance)
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Nocciolata
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) Amaretto

Cream butter, add Nocciolata. Sift powdered sugar with cocoa. Add and mix slowly until it’s completely incorporated (or your kitchen will end up covered in sugar haha.) Add coffee, vanilla, Amaretto. Whip until creamy and smooth. Try not to eat it all before your cake is frosted!

frosting2

nocciolata frosing

Add a ring of ground almonds. Simple. Elegant. Scrumptious.frosting4

It tastes very similar to Nutella, with a well-balanced chocolate and toasted hazelnut flavor, but when it comes to texture, Nocciolata stands alone.

Would you like to win a jar? All you have to do is visit their website here.

 

Where Fashion and Function Meet and Marry

There’s so much RIGHT with this.

versaceamaretto

…from a marketing standpoint.

…from a branding standpoint.

…a marriage of two MAJOR brands.

…aspirational and inspirational, quenching my thirst on a couple of levels.

Follow along with the way my brain works, OK?

Do you know Lizzi at Considerings?

She very kindly (after I twisted her arm) shared her amazing recipe for Lebkuchen  — a traditional German cookie — that I plan to bake in honor of the homecoming of my esteemed (German) Professor Angel Boy, also known as the boy/man who can eat more food than anyone I’ve ever known — a Guinness World Record contender – which makes baking and cooking for him a total and complete joy.

The frosting calls for Amaretto, something we don’t normally keep stocked in the Enchanted Seashells liquor cabinet.

After a massive shopping excursion at Trader Joe’s, I walked down the sidewalk (in the same shopping center) to BevMo.

I picked up a small bottle of Amaretto (along with a few other items, as long as I was there, ya know.)

In the center of the main aisle, my eye were drawn to a bright blue box — one of those promotional boxes of booze they feature around the holidays usually boasting a value added option like glasses or a shaker.

Wait, hold on a minnie.

This was DeSaronno Amaretto, but a larger bottle than the one I had in hand, and it was packaged with two pretty glasses.

OK, I didn’t really need more glasses that I’d just end up breaking, BUT I do like a bonus.

Chanel notwithstanding, I am a thrifty gal.

Upon closer inspection, the final affirmation of purchasing perfection was my realization (in slo mo) that the amaretto bottle itself was DRESSED IN VERSACE.

DRESSED IN GIANNI VERSACE.  amaretto11

Picture me doing a double take.

Wha?

Yes! Yes! Yes! A DESIGNER CLOTHED BOTTLE OF BOOZE!

(And only a few dollars more than the naked/undressed/unadorned bottle and THAT satiated my price point.)

Oh HELL YES, I said to myself as I grabbed it off the shelf.

SEASHELLS AND CHERUBS.amareatto16

I’m all verklempt, fanning myself with my shopping list.

OY. VEY.

Come to MOMMA.

A perfect marriage, a perfect union of form and function.amaretto10

A truly  brilliant marketing design.

hello kitty

Water bottle and iron on patch.

I haven’t been THIS excited since my son sent me a water bottle from Yale that featured Hello Kitty.

At the time, I thought THAT was the pinnacle of marketing heaven.

Backstory: Versace and I have a sad history.

When tugboat man and I were newly married, his father and stepmother gave me a Christmas present in a beautiful brilliantly white Versace bag with the iconic lion. Read all about my disappointment HERE @
Lesson #1. Never do this to your daughter-in-law. Ever.

The only Versace I own is that white bag.

Up until now, that is.

Now I have a stylishly dressed up bottle of booze.

Life is good, y’all!

P.S. I have the world’s worst in laws — world’s WORST. The Versace bag incident was the tip of the iceberg. It’s been downhill ever since. I have NO IDEA how my tugboat man turned into such a wonderful, loving, caring human with ‘rents like that. Truth.

Raspberry and Chocolate Bars. YUM.

Rah Rah Raspberry Chocolate Layered Oat Bars
raspberrychocbar4Tugboat man and I stopped at a Boudin Bakery located in South Coast Plaza ‘cos he was famished — he doesn’t have the same kind of stamina that I’m blessed with — to keep going until that holy grail has been attained.

Of course I’m speaking of shopping.

We took a five minute break so the whingy one could have some sustenance  – a little snack, a boost of energy — just enough to walk around the mall one more time.

Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Hermes, Chanel.

(Poor guy. He’s so sweet, He suffers for me, he really does.)

We shared a Raspberry Chocolate Bar that was SO unexpectedly mouthwatering I couldn’t wait to attempt a recreation.

It’s in the oven now. Tugboat man and I’ll have a taste comparison to see if it measures up.

OK, we patiently waited and enjoyed a square of my version of their Raspberry Chocolate Bar along with a cup of ginger tea.

The verdict? DELICIOUS, but not EXACTLY the same, yet so good, it doesn’t really matter.

In every bite there’s creamy rich chocolate along with the crunch of oats and zesty raspberry. SO GOOD. 

Try it!

(Next time I’ll use fresh raspberries or pure unsweetened jam to control the amount of sugar.  We felt this recipe was a bit TOO sweet but that only meant we couldn’t have as large a piece as we wanted.)


After firmly pressing bottom dough, spread with jam.

raspberrychocbarsAdd the chocolate chips, yum!
rasberrychocbars1Carefully press top dough over jam.
raspberrychocbar2Golden brown, it takes a long time to cool and firm up before cutting and eating. Be patient! Tip: Refrigerate to hasten setting up.raspberrychoc3

Chocolate Raspberry Layered Oat Bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 375°

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, butter, oil. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add flour, oats, salt, baking powder and stir until well blended (mixture will be slightly crumbly.).

Remove 3/4 cup of dough; toss with chocolate chips. Set aside.

Press the remaining dough firmly into an 8-inch square baking pan, and spread evenly with jam. Sprinkle with chocolate chip mixture and again press firmly.

Bake at 375° for thirty minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

 

YUMMY Chocolate + Black Beans + Beets Brownies

plus

http-www-cocoavia-com

http-www-cocoavia-com

and

wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

equals

chocolate cakeplate

Now, don’t you all go rolling your eyes at me.

I used to be a teacher and I still have eyes in the back of my head.

I can see you.

Before you make all those gaggy sounds and scrunch up your face (you know who I’m talking to!), I implore you to TRY these very tasty and UBER healthy brownies.

Well, not all that healthy ‘cos of the sugar and chocy chips, but cocoa beans grow on a tree, so that makes them a plant — therefore sort of a veggie or a fruit. So, healthy, right?

Don’t be all judge-y and shake your head.

TRY them for me, OK?

Black Bean + Beet Brownies

  • 1 can or 3/4 cup cooked black beans (unsalted or rinse well)
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup unsalted cooked beets or finely shredded raw beets (Yes, BEETS!)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or olive oil(I always use a bit less)
  • 2 eggs *see below for vegan substitution*
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar ( I’ve tried brown sugar and I’ve tried agave, not sure what’s better, kind of a personal taste thing)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso or leftover cold coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Top with Best Baking Hack Ever frosting (click for recipe)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 9-inch square baking pan. In a blender or food processor, puree the beans and beets with the oil. Add the eggs, cocoa, sugar, coffee, and vanilla. Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the blender. Blend on medium-high until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the blender and pulse until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until the surface looks somewhat matte around the edges and still a bit shiny in the middle, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least fifteen minutes before eating. My family thinks they taste better the longer they sit in order for any “beany” texture to dissipate.

Best Baking Hack Ever

bakinghack1 bakinghack2 bakinghack3


Wanna go vegan? 

  • 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. Water

With food processor, spice grinder, or old school mortar and pestle, grind the chia seeds into a meal. Mix the water and ground chia seed meal in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so, or until it takes on a gloppy texture similar to raw egg yolk.

YUMMY Old Fashioned ORANGE Meringue Pie

Sometimes it satisfies a certain nostalgia to crack open my mom’s old Betty Crocker Cookbook and recreate her tried and true favorite recipes.

They may not be TOTALLY the most UBER healthy…but once in while it’s OK to indulge.

This time I had a hankering for an Orange Meringue Pie…a bit of a change from the standard lemon meringue — not that lemons aren’t delicious — but I had a few organic oranges around and wanted to work with that specific and intensely ORANGE flavor.

I served it after a dinner of Chile Rellenos with Guacamole (post soon.)
The citrus was the PERFECT finishing touch to a spicy meal.

First of all, I’m going to be a bossy pants and insist that you spend just a few minutes to create your own baked pie crust. It’s not THAT difficult and is SO much better than store bought. (Recipe below)

orangepie4

Old school juicer. VERY low tech.orangepie1 Work it, work it! Don’t leave it for a minute, keep stirring, continue whisking…orangepie2 …until the mixture thickens and become silky, smooth, and emanates an amazing orange perfume.orangepie3

As soon as the filling is done, quickly turn to your mixer and whip the whites into light peaks of pillowy soft clouds.orangepie5Very stiff peaks is what you’re looking to achieve.
orangepie6

The last few steps are the MOST important. Fill the baked pie shell with the orange filling.
orangepie7 Spread the uncooked meringue over the filling, spreading to completely cover the pie. orangepie8Slide gently into the oven for about five to seven minutes. DON’T leave the kitchen ‘cos a minute too long and your meringue goes from luscious lightly browned goodness to crispy burned in a HEARTBEAT.

LOVELY. Very marshmallow-y.
orangepie9 BEYOND GOOD.

HONEST. :)orangepie10

 

Orange Meringue Pie (thank you, Betty Crocker!)

  • 1 (9 inch) pie crusts, baked
  • cup sugar
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • tablespoons butter
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 -3 egg white, meringue

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch.
  3. Combine egg yolks, orange juice and water; stir gradually into sugar/cornstarch mixture in the pan.
  4. Cook stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils.
  5. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly; stir in butter, lemon juice and the peel.
  6. Immediately pour into pre-baked pie shell.
  7. Cover completely with meringue-carefully sealing to the edges.
  8. Bake about 10 minutes or until meringue browns lightly.
  9. Cool on wire rack out of drafts.

BAKED PIE CRUST
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Directions

Heat oven to 475ºF. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on wire rack.

Yummy! Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake Roll

cakeroll8

It was devoured in record time; I didn’t even have the chance to take pics of a slice!

Full house to empty nest in the space of forty-eight hours.

It was a whirlwind visit from my Angel Boy; more like a pit stop, really.

The summer class he was teaching at Yale was over.

We picked him up from the airport Monday afternoon and he flew away Wednesday afternoon.

(Oh, and my tugboat man left Wednesday MORNING for a week or so — not too long to be upset about — just the right amount of time to clean and shop. Yes, I made two separate trips to the airport in one day.)

Except for the hours he was sleeping or surfing, my son’s number one activity was EATING.

That child of mine always had a wonderful appetite, but this was Olympic-level eating.

Chew, swallow, repeat.

A mom’s heaven.

I was a whirling dervish of a baker: Apple Pie, French Bread, Blueberry Banana Bread, Chard and Mushroom Lasagna plus his favorite Cake Roll. Sometimes I fill it with ice cream, but summer berries looked so beautiful at the farmer’s market so that’s what I did.

I bet he gained at least three pounds.

I’ve posted the recipe I always use from my mom’s 1940’s Betty Crocker cookbook.

Here’s a pictorial about how to create the roll. I did it outside on our deck because it’s kind of messy with the powdered sugar but if you don’t use it, the cake sticks to the cloth.

cakeroll1 This is how it should look, barely browned and still spongy. You can cut off the edges if they’re crispy.cakeroll2 Carefully turn it over onto a powdered sugar-covered cloth and peel away the parchment paper without destroying the cake (easier said than done!)cakeroll3 Roll it all up like a giant sushi roll and put in the freezer to cool off while youcakeroll4slice the gorgeous strawberries. Add only enough sugar to macerate (get juicy.)cakeroll6There is no excuse NOT to whip fresh cream. Nothing out of a can, thank you very much! It only takes a few minutes and it’s so yummy.
cakeroll5Unroll the cake, spread first with whipped cream, and then layer the strawberries.
cakeroll7

I used a LOT of strawberries and cream which made it hard to roll, but I wanted to fatten up my skinny child, so I didn’t care so much about the symmetry.

Bon appétit!
Trust me, it’s worth the effort!
cakeroll8


Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake Roll w/Freshly Whipped Cream

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1 -inch pan with waxed paper, foil or cooking parchment paper; generously grease waxed paper or foil with shortening. (I used a cookie sheet with sides)
  • In medium bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until very thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in water and vanilla on low speed. Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt, beating just until batter is smooth. Pour into pan, spreading to corners.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. You should still hear some sizzle…Immediately loosen cake from sides of pan and turn upside down onto towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove paper. Trim off stiff edges of cake if necessary. While cake ¡s hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end. Cool on cooling rack at least 30 minutes.
  • Unroll cake and remove towel.
  • Beat one small container with 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Slice two cups of strawberries, sprinkle with 2 or three tablespoons of sugar. Stir and allow to macerate for a while. (Save a couple for garnish)
  • When cake is cool (hurry it up  by placing in freezer for 1/2 hour) spread evenly with whipped cream and place sliced strawberries evenly over the unrolled cake.
  • Roll up, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with whole strawberries, and refrigerate.

P.S. Try my very best Apple Pie Recipe. Click here.

Lentil Cookies v2

My son-2Even though TECHNICALLY I’m defined as an “empty nester” because my son is on his own, married, and no longer resides at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, I don’t believe he’s ever further away than my heart.

I woke up on Saturday to read this email from my Angel Boy, which is the reason why I baked cookies early this morning and sent a package off to him while they were still warm:

angelboyemail

Not ALL is perpetually enchanted in the life of Princess Rosebud; It’s still difficult to think about or talk about my son’s recent emergency life-saving surgery  — I can’t even GO there to that place of “what if” — BUT the worst diid NOT occur and he’s making a full recovery.

Briefly, here’s what happened.

He had an obstruction due to a congenital defect we never knew he had, Meckel’s diverticulum. During his surgery, 24 inches of small intestines were removed because they were necrotic, along with 8 inches of ascending colon, his appendix, and lots of other small valves and little parts.

It all came about with no warning. Crazy, right?

Here’s that “if” again. IF my DIL had not fought the ER and been his best assertive advocate to insist they take a more proactive approach to diagnosis his pain (she just would NOT GIVE UP) and IF we had not had such an amazing surgical team led by Dr. Todd Stafford  –  well, let’s just say that we are all very grateful that he had such a dedicated team of doctors. Nuff said.

He lost about twenty pounds during his ordeal, and at six feet and 160 pounds on a GOOD day, that much weight loss made this normally fit and healthy young man look emaciated.

During his post-surgical recovery, his diet was limited to low fiber and low residue foods; a lot of Cream of Wheat, mashed potatoes, and chicken noodle soup. No vegetables, no fruit, nothing that would interfere with the healing of multiple incisions and re-joining of internal organs.

I’m happy to report that three months after the surgery, he’s defied the odds and is back to eating pretty much everything he wants, with only minor digestive upsets.

He went back to work, teaching a summer course at Yale, and I’ve been sending him healthy cookies and high protein bars on a weekly basis —  and as requested, he’ll receive the lentil cookies on Wednesday, and that should keep him supplied until he’s here next week for a short visit. Yay!

You can be sure that I’ll be cooking and baking nonstop. I’m so HAPPY to have my Angel Boy here, surfing with tugboat man and best of all, close enough to touch and hug and play Scrabble and Bananagrams.

Every minute of every day, I’m grateful to be one of the luckiest moms in the world.

To read all about Angel Boy’s surgery, click on the following links: 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A while back, I posted Alton Brown’s Lentil Cookie recipe that I discovered on Food Network’s website.

This time, I experimented and created a version that’s a bit more intensely nutritious.

LENTIL COOKIESAngel Boy’s Lentil Cookies

They are quite dense, full of protein and energy,  and would make a great snack for hiking.

  •  2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup brown sugar (If you use honey/agave, adjust the flour to accommodate the additional liquid)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg (or not if vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 1 cup dried fruit, I used a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, apricots.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, oil, vanilla, yogurt, brown sugar. Whisk briefly to incorporate. Add peanut butter and lentil puree and mix thoroughly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, protein powder, ground flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.  Add the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or a hand mixer to combine. use hands to mix. Stir in dried fruit. If it seems a little dry, add yogurt. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper Bake for 13 to 17 minutes, depending on your oven’s personality.

Lentil Puree:

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool.


 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cairn for Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday’s almost over; 5:00 p.m. in SoCal — a few minutes ago I took these chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, stacked them up, and snapped a few pics.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cairn

chocolate chip cookie cairn5

chocolate chip cookie cairn


#Baking The Humble, Beatific #Biscuit

Not out of a can.

Not out of a box.

Just a few modest ingredients, mixed and mashed and melded together to create blissful, aromatic, crusty-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside rounds of simple decadence.

Plain, buttered, or drizzled with agave, these are so satisfying with a bowl of Veggie-Lentil Soup, especially for those of you suffering from the #polarvortex with subzero Arctic temps.

biscuit7We don’t have gluten problems, so I used regular old white flour.

I don’t often bake items that are not 1000% nutritious, but we were totes craving the real thing.

It’s OK to indulge once in a great while, don’t you agree?

Here we start. You only need five ingredients; I’m sure everyone has milk, flour, shortening, salt, and baking powder in the pantry, right? #baking

biscuit2Next, it’s time to cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. I use a fork. Simple!

biscuit3 Add milk, mix, and let it rest for a few minutes to develop the gluten.
Then, roll it out and use a biscuit cutter or a glass if you’re cool like me. 

biscuit5

I always use parchment paper. Bake until they’re golden brown. You’ll be able to smell them as they rise and attain perfection. Don’t over bake or you’ll be able to use them as hockey pucks LOL.

biscuit6

Display on a pretty and fancy plate!. YUM!

biscuit1

Simple But Special #BiscuitRecipe

This recipe makes 8 to 12 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Pour milk into flour mixture while stirring with a fork. Mix in milk until dough is soft, moist and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and toss with flour until no longer sticky. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick sheet and cut with a floured biscuit or cookie cutter. Press together unused dough and repeat rolling and cutting procedure.
  5. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.#baking

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Lemoncupcakesingle

My version topped with a lush garden strawberry

A while back I read Our Growing Paynes post about Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. (Click here for their recipe.)

I love anything lemony and it looked so amazing and mouth-watering that I had to try it.

There’s a tangy sweet burst of lemon curd and fluffy meringue in every bite.

It brings out the Nigella Lawson in me to try and conjure up sensual adjectives to describe how they taste.

chocolate babkaMy tugboat man said it was the best thing I’ve ever made, and ranked it right up there with the Chocolate Babka I made a while back.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon curd, cupcakes, and toasty meringue…how could it be anything but spectacular?

I made the Lemon Curd the day before.. the old school way with my mom’s vintage double boiler. There’s an easier microwave version that has great reviews; try that one if you’re short on time. This is the recipe I used:

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Whisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a double boiler over simmering water until mixed well, then continue to stir until thick, 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain through a mesh sieve to get rid of lumps. Fold in butter until well incorporated. Mix in lemon zest. Cover curd and chill in the refrigerator until it’s thickened, about four hours. Very important to sieve it, don’t skip this step.

The finished product. So smooth. Like lemon velvet.lemon curd

The vanilla cupcakes ready and waiting for embellishment and a little sparkle.
vanilla lemon cupcakes

The meringue.
lemoncupcake4

It’s fun to core out a bit of the cupcake ‘cos you can eat the middle and pretend it doesn’t have any calories. I used a tomato stem end corer —
a weird but very useful tool. Works great for strawberries, too.
tomato stem end corer

Fill holes with lemon curd and spoon meringue on top in fluffy clouds of goodness.
Place in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. Don’t go too far away because it takes just a second to go from beautifully toasty brown to burnt.
Lemncupcakes3

Out of the oven, I topped each with a lush garden strawberry.lemonmerenguecupcake1

That first bite… Cake, lemon curd, meringue.
ABSOLUTE HEAVEN.
There are no other words necessary.
Thank you, Our Growing Paynes!lemonmerenguecupcake2

 I’ll make it again for the captain’s welcome home dessert.