Limoncello Cupcakes

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So Limoncello you say…ya, we don’t have any of that at our house but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from making these if I could help it.  I asked a few neighbors…they didn’t have it either.  I sent a text to my Sister-in-Law and what do you know…she not only had some, she bought it when she was in Italy!  SCORE!

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These cupcakes, once you have the proper ingredients, are really easy to make with only three main steps. I might add, there is Limoncello in all three of those steps!

Prepare the batter and bake the cupcakes

Prepare the sugar syrup and soak the baked cupcakes

Make the butter frosting and frost the cupcakes.

I am not a huge frosting or cake fan but after all the trouble to get this Limoncello I had to try it, and my Sister-in-Law said it was really good.  I have to tell you, I licked the spoon when I was done with the frosting it was that good!!!  What a great sweet, lemony flavor…super intense.  In a way, it gets diluted down when you eat it on the cupcake. :)  I would say everyone “liked” the cupcakes but “LOVED” the frosting!!!  The frosting is a keeper!

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Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

IMG_1668This recipe intrigued me…and apparently my tasters as well!

Everyone’s comments were the same,

  • “I have never tasted anything like this before”
  • “Well, do you like it?”
  • “I am still thinking about it, trying to figure it out…what the heck is on top…toffee bits, heath bar, nuts??”

It was funny how everyone had the same reaction!…and no one figured out the topping was caramelized rice crispy cereal! They all decided they loved the bars but I think the mystery of the flavors was what got them on this one.  The recipe seemed easy enough but actually gave me a little bit of trouble.  It says the dough is sticky and difficult to work with…I had a tough time “showing it who is boss” as the recipe told us.  The other problem I had was getting the chocolate to melt the way they said to do it in the recipe.  My chocolate wouldn’t melt…it just became grainy.  I had to scrape that off, which wasn’t difficult since it didn’t melt.  I melted chocolate in the microwave and then poured it on the crust.  I thought this was a much easier way and would do it that way again.

In my opinion, the caramelized rice crispy cereal really made this dessert.  It wasn’t hard to do and gave this cookie bar something unique…something to talk about ;)

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Lemon Madeleines

photolmGiven our back to back lemon recipes, it is hard not to compare them…especially when the last one, “Not Your Usual Lemon Meringue Pie”, got such high praise!

I was glad I got to use my madeleine pan again since that was one of the rare purchases I have made participating in this baking group.  I mean, I had to right…how can you bake madeleines without the correct pan! :)

These cookies were fairly easy and smelled great…the only complaint I have, is they were  pretty time consuming with all the “chilling” in the fridge and then after all that, you only have 12 cookies to show for it!  Seems to me most cookie recipes make a few dozen at least.  My tasters all thought the madeleines tasted like a piece of lemon cake with great icing.   I have used a sugar icing many times before, but I have never baked it on in a 500 degree oven.  I thought the finished product seemed similar to the icing on a glazed donut.

I am still waiting to try these since it is that time of year again…I have one in the freezer for after Easter.  All of my tasters enjoyed these and I am sure would love them again…but I am not sure…I guess I will have to wait until I try them to see what the final verdict is haha!!  Hopefully they freeze well :)

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Not Your Usual Lemon Meringue Pie

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This baking with two cookbooks is getting a bit tricky with the scheduling…especially with some of the recipes having an “eat when assembled” direction.  It is hard to pull it off with my baking and then the texting to my tasters. :)  Thankfully, everyone was on board with probably picking this one up about 8pm.

This recipe was a pretty easy one actually…made in three parts: the lemon curd, phyllo crisps, and then the meringue.  My tasters were all very intrigued by this one and anxious to try it…even driving over at 8pm haha!

It did not disappoint…I think their texted responses say it ALL:

“That was out of sight.  It’s my number 1 dessert so far!  I liked the crunchy part!  FANTASTIC”

“Wow!! That was sooo good!  We really enjoyed every bite!!!”

“Very good!!!  Love the crunchy pieces and the lemony filling is really refreshing…like a crunchy lemon bar”

My husband ate his piece and agreed with my Dad, his #1 dessert we have made in over 3 years…up there with the Tropical Napoleans!  We were already trying to figure out when I could make this again and for what gathering!

So, based on the ease of this recipe, and everyone’s overwhelming love of this recipe, I can say pretty confidently it will be made again…This One Is A Keeper!!

Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt Cake

So, before the Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt Cake…a word about Marquise au Chocolate!

Baking has an interesting way of bringing out personality and character traits that you may or may not know about yourself.  This past week we were assigned the recipe, Marquise au Chocolat.  It sounded so good…very chocolatey…and so easy.  The problem I had with it, was it used raw eggs.  I am one of those people, rare as we are, that don’t use raw eggs.  I don’t eat cookie batter, I just don’t eat raw eggs.  When I tried to think really why I don’t, I think it really comes from having a mom who was in the medical profession and being the first born that I am, I follow what was ingrained into me at a young age.  I guess the fear of getting sick was worse than being daring.

Anyway, I sat out for the last recipe and then took a look at all the blog posts last week and was so disappointed to have missed this awesome, amazing dessert.  Apparently, there are a lot of people who aren’t worried about raw eggs haha!  There were those few though, who had my fears but cooked the yolks and had a great experience with the dessert…so thanks to those few bakers I took on the chocolate mousse…with cooked yolks…and it was as amazing as everyone posted!!  I added oreo cookie crumbs on the bottom which were good but didn’t quite stick as well as I had hoped…but tasted great.

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The consensus on this one was it was terrific…definitely a keeper so I am glad I tried it!! :)

I made the Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt cake a week or so ago.  I was so excited to make this one..because it was chocolate: something I like and also because I would be able to try a new skill and torch the custard!!  I picked up my parents creme brûlée torch they happened to have…my dad made sure I had enough butane in it and I was ready.

The cake and custard were both easy enough to put together and the cake turned out light and chocolatey.  My problem was with the custard.  I stirred and stirred and it didn’t seem to want to thicken….at least not thicken as much as I had expected.  I was hopeful that once it sat in the fridge that would do the trick…but not so much.

I went ahead and tried to use it on the cake but it just seemed too runny to stay on top of the cake in order to torch it and get that true creme bruleed look.  This is the best I got…which was disappointing!

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I mean, it was candied, but I had visions of a beautifully torched topping to this cake and it just didn’t happen.  What I did instead was give my tasters some custard to drizzle on their pieces when they got home.  The custard tasted fine, just wasn’t thick enough to stand on top.

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This was one of those recipes that was good…everyone enjoyed it but it just didn’t seem to be what I expected and probably not one I would try again.  There are too many really good recipes out there…but hey, once again fun to try!!

Browned Butter Weekend Cake

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The recipe says the cake is best if it can sit after baking and be eaten the “next” day…even stretching it out over a weekend.  Well, it probably helps if you don’t have a lot of people wanting a slice but I can say it was eaten promptly with no leftovers. :)

The general consensus from my tasters was that everyone expected it to be a more typical pound cake but it just wasn’t.  It was a lot more moist and had more flavor.  Two people commented it seemed like a “vanilla wafer cake”.  Interesting analogy but I totally got it.

The best part about this cake, besides everyone loving it, was just how easy it was.  I think the only thing that was a little daunting was getting the “browned butter” right and not ending up as Dorie states on the other side with “blackened butter”  I watched it very closely and had no problem.  I would totally make this again…easy and delicious!

Granola Energy Bar Update…seeing as some people got crunchy and some people got chewy granola bars, I took the advice from fellow bakers and tried these again!  This time I used regular corn syrup instead of the brown rice syrup and got a much chewier bar….more of what I was expecting.   I also added the mini chocolate chips after the other mixture had cooled and they stayed whole!  They tasted much better…I am glad I tried these again, so thanks for the encouragement! :)

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Granola Energy Bars

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Since I am a granola/granola bar eater, I was looking forward to this recipe.  It is one of those recipes that you can alter any of the ingredients as long as you keep the amounts consistent.  I opted to keep it close to the original using almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds and dried cranberries.  The only thing I changed was to substitute mini chocolate chips for the coconut. :)  Dorrie had commented that using brown rice syrup is the key to binding all the ingredients together. I thought that would be hard to find but my local produce store carried it.

Super simple recipe; heat the syrup and butter and mix all ingredients together.  I don’t know what I was thinking but I had pictured my bars looking like the Quaker granola bars with the mini chocolate chips all intact.  Mine melted…

I was expecting a chewy bar with mini chocolate chips and it turned out more like a crunchy, chocolate looking granola bar.  Maybe they were over cooked but I followed the recipe.  I will be curious if others had a chewy or crunchy bar.  I was really hoping these would be great, but they fell short for me.  Such a bummer…but oh well, onto the next recipe!