Double-Chocolate Apricot-Pecan Cookies

“That’s a damn fine cookie.”

110 grams all-purpose flour
55 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
98 grams butter
4 eggs
325 grams sugar
3/4 tablespoon vanilla
338 grams pecans
390 grams dark chocolate chips
390 grams white chocolate chips
450 grams milk chocolate
345 grams dried apricots

Preheat oven to 330 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop apricots and pecans.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.

Melt together milk chocolate and butter.

Beat together eggs and sugar until foamy. Add vanilla and melted chocolate mixture.

Add dry ingredients and apricots. Then stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough onto parchment-lined sheet pans and bake 12-15 minutes until top looks a little dry and cookies appear to be set.

(Using a number 30 disher, this recipe yielded 54 cookies.)

Jim’s Cornbread

Southern Cornbread Jim’s Way

Cooking school taught me that you have to have a balance of tastes in your dishes. Bitter, salty, sour and sweet all must be in harmony; things taste better that way.

It’s why southern cornbread (and biscuits … and pancakes! Ohhh pancakes!) has buttermilk. It’s also why – even though I’m in the South – there is a touch of sugar in this cornbread.

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup self rising flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
2 T sugar
fresh ground pepper
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 T butter
4 T olive oil

Preheat oven and No. 10 cast iron skillet (a Number 10 is a 12 inch pan) to 425 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Beat in eggs and milk.

Remove skillet from oven. Add oil and butter, allowing butter to melt. Pour most of the oil & butter mixture into batter and stir well.

Sprinkle skillet lightly with salt and add batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Don’t have buttermilk? You can substitute one cup milk + 1 T apple cider vinegar.

The Best Banana Cream Pie

Yes, this banana cream pie really is the best!

Base Ingredients:

  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks, reserving egg whites for meringue
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons banana liqueur
  • 3 ripe bananas

Base instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In saucier, combine the sugar, flour and salt, cream, milk and egg yolks and beat very well with a whisk.

Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue cooking for one minute to ensure the flour has reached its maximum thickening and no longer tastes raw.

Remove from heat and blend in the butter, vanilla and liqueur.

Set aside to cool slightly.

Slice bananas into pie shell, top with custard and top with prepared meringue.

Bake until meringue has turned golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool thoroughly before slicing.

Meringue Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons banana liqueur

Meringue Instructions:

Place egg whites in mixing bowl and begin beating. When the egg whites are frothy, add the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form, add banana liqueur.

 

 

Cranberry-Lemon Cake with Lemon Icing

Berries, butter and lemon . . .

Back around Thanksgiving, I made this cake and fell in love. It starts out moist and continues to marinate over the next couple days until it is absolutely decadent.

This time ‘round I’m trying it with orange instead of lemon.

I imagine a blueberry-lemon combo would be great as well. You could get away with any berry combined with your favorite citrus.

For Cake:

1½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter, softened
1¼ cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1½ cups fresh cranberries

For Glaze:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To prepare cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan (note, the pan I used is actually a hotel or steam table pan that is slightly larger than my 9×5 inch loaf pan…my standard 9×5 inch loaf pan is too small for this recipe and resulted in me having to clean the oven), or line with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, zest, juice, and vanilla. Set aside.

In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. I used the BeaterBlade for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It nearly eliminates scraping of the bowl.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Reduce mixer speed and alternatively beat in ⅓ of flour mixture, followed by ½ of sour cream mixture, and repeat, ending with the last ⅓ of the flour mixture. Be sure to pause the mixer occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl. Use a spatula to gently fold in cranberries.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 60 minutes, until top springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a stainless cooling rack.

Cool completely before icing.

To prepare glaze:

To make glaze, whisk together lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar until there are no lumps.

Final assembly:

Drizzle over cooled cake.

 

Mise en Place
Mise en Place for Lemon Cranberry Cake

 

Softened butter ready to be beaten into submission by a BeaterBlade
Softened Butter with a BeaterBlade

 

Butter after its initial mix
Butter After Initial Mix

 

Butter after just having the sugar mixed in
First Mix of Sugar with Butter

 

Butter and sugar after having been creamed together for 3 full minutes
Properly Creamed Butter and Sugar

 

The completed batter, waiting for the cranberries
The Completed Batter ready for the cranberries

 

The cranberry cake waiting for the oven
The Cranberry Cake waiting for the oven

 

The cake fresh from the oven waiting to be plated and iced
The Cranberry Cake fresh from the oven

Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Glaze

Lemon Cheesecake

Crust:

1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 c. butter
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Filling:

5 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
juice of one lemon
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 or 5 eggs (1 cup)
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. whipping cream

Make Crust:

Combine first three ingredients. Cut in butter till mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Blend thoroughly. Pat 1/3 of dough on bottom of 9 in. spring-form pan (sides removed). Bake in hot oven (400 F.) for about 5 minutes or until golden; cool. Attach sides to bottom, butter, and pat remaining dough on sides to height of 1 3/4″. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Make Filling:

Beat cream cheese until creamy. Add vanilla, lemon peel and juice. Mix next 3 ingredients, gradually blend into cheese. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating after each just to blend. Gently sir in whipping cream.

Turn into crust-lined pan. Bake at 450 F. for 12 minutes; reduce heat to 300 and continue baking 55 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. Loosen sides with flat spatula after 1/2 hour. Remove sides at end of 1 hour. Allow to cool 2 hours longer.

Blueberry Glaze

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
4 cups fresh blueberries, divided

Make Blueberry Glaze:

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan; blend thoroughly. Gradually stir in water.

Crush 1 cup blueberries; add to sugar mixture.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.

Continue to boil about 2 minutes or until mixture is clear.

Strain through fine mesh strainer or chinois. Cool.

Final Assembly

Arrange remaining blueberries over top of chilled cheesecake.

Pour cooled glaze over berries.