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Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Every year I get excited when I see strawberries in the grocery store.  I’m not really big on fruit desserts, but I do love strawberry shortcake, cupcakes, and ice cream.  I saw these cupcakes at the perfect time and decided to make them to celebrate this beautiful warmer weather that we’ve been blessed with!  These cupcakes were a pretty standard white cupcake with lemon flavoring, but it was the frosting that made them stand out.  This frosting was simply incredible!  I like pretty much any frosting, but a Swiss buttercream works great in sweets because it’s not overly sweet.  It’s more about the creamy,  buttery texture.  I added an entire carton of strawberries for extra flavor, which was just right for me.  David said that this is pretty much his favorite cupcake and he wants me to find even more excuses to make that frosting again!  These would be a great dessert to make for a spring cookout or for Mother’s Day- the perfect way to celebrate spring!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Martha Stewart

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 Tbsp lemon zest (from 3 lemons)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1-1.5 lemons)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Strawberry Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin by either spraying with baking spray or lining with paper liners (my preferred method).

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar on a high until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next one. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Turn mixer to the low, and add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated.

Fill each muffin cup ~3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pans at the halfway point. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the pans before removing.

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
2 cups sugar
8 egg whites
3 sticks butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pint strawberries, pureed
1 tsp vanilla

Place the stand mixer bowl over a simmering pot of water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk the sugar and egg whites until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture registers 160 degrees with a candy thermometer.

Place bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until the mixture is cool and holds stiff, glossy peaks (approximately 10 minutes). Change to the paddle attachment and beat in one tablespoon of butter at a time on medium. The mixture might appear curdled but keep going, it will pull back together. Add lemon juice, strawberry puree, and vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat until the frosting reincorporates and is smooth and fluffy (this will take about 10 minutes).

Yields: Frosting for 24 cupcakes

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Apple Spice Cake

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I love baking with apples, and think that they are really good in cakes.  The apples give the cake a lot of moisture and add a great depth of flavor, especially with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bon Appetit’s October 2009 issue had several apple desserts, and I knew this would be worth trying.  It’s funny how foods like apples, carrots, and zucchini are very nutritious on their own, but we like to make them less healthy by putting them in cake and adding cream cheese frosting to them 🙂  This was a truly wonderful cake.  It wasn’t too sweet, and the spices enhanced the flavor of the cake.  It got the extra touch of sweetness from the cream cheese frosting.  It also helped that the frosting was only in the layers and not all over the sides.  The original recipe just called for a two-layer cake, but I decided that it would make a much better presentation with four layers, so I split them, but still used the same amount of frosting.  I also used walnuts instead of pecans.  This cake was perfectly moist and flavorful, and was a big hit when I served it.  It’s the perfect cake for a fall get-together!

Apple Spice Cake
Source: Bon Appetit October 2009, also available on epicurious.com

Cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)

Frosting:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
  • Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)
  • Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
  • For cake:
    Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and stoer at room temperature.
  • For frosting:
    Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 11/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.

Banana Crumb Muffins

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I am trying to adopt a new habit of making something for David to take to work to eat for breakfast.  He never eats anything before leaving for work, but after he has been there for a few hours, he will eat breakfast.  He’s not always good about telling me that he wants something, so I’ve been trying to look for new things to make.  I like this because it gives me a baking outlet, and I know he’s eating something better than a pop tart.

He’s been really into bananas lately, so I decided to make these banana muffins.  They’ve been getting rave reviews on allrecipes.com for the past several years.  I first discovered and made them about two years ago, but haven’t put them in my blog until now.  They are the best banana muffins I’ve made!  They are nice and moist with a full banana flavor.  Even better is the streusel topping- can you really go wrong?  The recipe actually provides ample topping for the muffins.  These are nice and sweet, but not overly so, which makes them a perfect morning snack.

Banana Crumb Muffins
Source: allrecipes.com

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
    3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
    4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Apple Spice Bars

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I love baking with apples, especially in the fall.  As much as I love chocolate, apples and pumpkin come in a pretty close second.  I made these delicious bars last year after a football game when we had people over to hang out (unfortunately we lost that game), so I will forever associate these bars with football, slightly cooler weather, and fall.  Last time I made them, I even made some caramel sauce to pour over the bars.  Apples and caramel is one of my favorite combinations.  These bars had a caramel taste to them and were perfectly sweet with the slight crunch of the apples to create a great texture.  These are also good keepers, as they stay soft and moist for several days (not that they will last that long!).

Apple Spice Bars
Source: Good Things Catered

Ingredients:
2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, cored and diced (a little less than 2 c.)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9×13 pan with foil and baking spray.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
-Whisk to combine well and set aside.
-In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
-Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.
-Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
-Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.
-Fold in apples.
-Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.
-Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (bars will be very soft)

Apple Turnovers (TWD)

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I’ve always liked apple turnovers, but I’ve never made them.  It’s hard to beat a warm apple dessert, so I was hoping these would be really good.  The dough was pretty easy to make and work with.  It was very similar to the Strawberry Hand Pies I made over the summer.  Once you chill the dough, you just roll it out and cut it into circles before you fill it and fold them up.  I tried to use biscuit cutters, but they were too small, so I just used my 4.5-inch springform pan as a guide, and it was the perfect size.  The filling was delicious!  I added a little bit of brown sugar to it to make it a little sweeter and to deepen the apple flavor.  I also added more cinnamon than the recipe called for, because the combination of apples and cinnamon is so incredible.  I forgot to add the egg wash, so these aren’t as dark as they should be, and don’t look very pretty.  David enjoyed snacking on them, but said that they weren’t as good as the Apple Strudel I made in May.

Julie chose this recipe, and you can view it on her blog.  You can also check out the TWD blog to see everyone else’s thoughts.

Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake

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The end of summer is approaching quickly, and I wanted to make one more summery dessert before we say goodbye to fresh fruit and welcome pumpkin, squash, and other fall flavors.  I love baking with blueberries.  I’ve seen the blueberry-lemon combination many times, but I thought the idea of blueberry-lime sounded really good, so I wanted to try it.  I love pound cakes because they are so simple to put together but they make incredible desserts.  I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to baking one night, so this was a perfect choice.

The blueberry-lime combination was incredible!  This was a great cake.  It was moist and full of flavor.  It did take on the longer end of the baking time, and I was worried that it might affect the texture, but it was just fine.  I really liked the glaze.  It added a nice touch to the cake and dressed it up a bit.  It was a big hit, and David ended up eating several pieces that night!  It was gone very quickly, and I didn’t have any left to take home.  This was a great way to say goodbye to summer and enjoy a fruit dessert one more time.

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Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake
Source: Use Real Butter

cake
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened (more for buttering the pan)
10.5 oz. (2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour (more for the pan)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (1/2 tsp @8500 feet)
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps lime zest, finely grated
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
13 oz. (2 1/2 cups) blueberries, room temperature, washed and drained on towels

glaze
4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsps lime juice, fresh (more as needed)

Cake: Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Pulse the sugar and lime zest together in a food processor about 20 times until well blended. Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for about a minute until it is smooth. Add the lime sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time making sure to mix well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Beat in the lone egg yolk and mix everything together on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture. Scrape the bowl down and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds and then gently fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air pockets and bake for 50-55 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes and invert the cake. Let cool completely.

Glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar and lime juice together until smooth. It should be just thin enough to pour. If too thin, add more sugar, if too thick, add more juice. Pour over the cooled cake and let the glaze set before serving.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

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David’s grandparents have an amazing garden, and my favorite part is the blueberry bushes.  Last year when we visited them, we picked a ton of blueberries on night and I used some of them in this blueberry pie.  We won’t be able to visit this year at their house, but we did see them recently, and they gave us some blueberries from this year.  I love blueberries, and I couldn’t wait to make something with them.  Since I made the pie last year, I wanted to make a frozen dessert this time.  I thought about ice cream, but settled on frozen yogurt since I’ve never made it before.

A few months ago, Stonyfield Farms left a comment on my blog asking me for my address so they could send me some coupons.  They didn’t say that I had to mention them on my blog, but since they were so nice about sending them, I thought I would say something.  I used plain organic yogurt, which was great on its own, but was wonderful in this dessert.  I feel good about using their products because of the health and environmentally friendly way they are produced.  Anyway, this frozen yogurt was fantastic.  The blueberry flavor was very prominent, and the yogurt balanced it so that it wasn’t too sweet.  I was surprised at the addition of kirsch.  It added a just the touch to make this dessert really stand out in flavor.  Next time I might add a little bit more because this froze really hard and the extra alcohol might help it soften it a little bit.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 ½ cups plain whole-milk yogurt

¾ cup sugar

3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 teaspoon kirsch

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a blender or food processor, blend together the yogurt, sugar, and blueberries.  Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds.  Stir in the kirsch and lemon juice.  Chill for 1 hour.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.