jeni’s spinalong #2 – watermelon lemonade pops

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I can’t believe it’s already been three months since our last Jeni’s Spinalong post. For this spinalong, we decided to go with the a “summer” theme, as it is rapidly approaching. We played it fast and loose with the base recipe, having only one requirement: that the base involve fruit of some kind.

As I was flipping through my Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams book for inspiration, I wanted something light, refreshing, and summery. One recipe in particular jumped out at me: Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet. It was like taking everything I love about summer and spinning it into a delicious dessert. What more could a girl ask for?

Shannon chose their Riesling-Pear sorbet and kicked it up several notches, turning it into grilled cantaloupe sorbet. She freaking grilled ice cream, people! That girls is a food wizard, people, I swear.

I immediately had visions of summer cookouts and pool parties, ice cold melon, refreshing lemonade, grillled things, and summer sun… I honestly couldn’t think of better recipes to welcome summer with. Since this watermelon-lemonade recipe was perfect as-is, I resisted my usual urge to tinker and made only one single slight modification: I made them portable. Because summer just screams “popsicles” doesn’t it?

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Some popsicle-making tips:

1. Don’t fill it all the way. Remember that water expands when it freezes, so leave about 1/4 inch or so at the top of your mold.

2. A lot of people will tell you to partially freeze your popsicles before adding the sticks, this has to do with them moving around when it begins the freezing process. While probably helpful, it’s not something I bother with because I’m the type of person who will forget to add the stick and end up with popsicle-shaped sorbet ice cubes instead.

3. Try to make sure the popsicles are level when they are freezing, or you may end up with lopsided pops. Still edible, but not as pretty.

4. To help ease the release of the popsicle from its mold, wrap a damp, warm cloth around the popsicle you would like to remove. After about 30 to 40 seconds, gently start to wiggle the popsicle stick to free the popsicle from its mold. Don’t be too aggressive or you might pull the stick out and end up with… a popsicle-shaped sorbet ice cube.

5. If you aren’t sure which mold to use, I have this one and have no complaints. They’re all about the same, what it mostly comes down to is what you want the shape of your final product to be.

watermelon lemonade pops

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups watermelon puree - from 1 (3-lb) watermelon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - from 2 to 3 medium lemons
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

Instructions

  1. Puree watermelon (without the rind) and measure out 2 1/2 cups of puree. Pour puree into a a medium bowl. If you have extra puree, you could make some margaritas
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  3. Heat lemon juice, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Whisk the lemon mixture into the pureed watermelon and pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag. Close the bag and put into the ice water bath until chilled. Let chill at least 30 minutes.*
  5. Pour sorbet into your ice cream canister and spin according to manufacturer's directions until the sorbet reaches the texture of softly-whipped cream.
  6. Spoon sorbet into popsicle molds**, insert popsicle sticks, and place into the coldest part of your freezer. Freeze for 8 hours, or overnight.
  7. To release popsicles from the mold, wrap a damp, warm dish towel around the popsicle you would like to release. After about 30 seconds or so, begin to gently wiggle the popsicle until it releases from its mold. See notes below if you don't plan to enjoy your popsicles immediately.

Notes

* If you're not going to spin the sorbet immediately, dry off the bag and place it in your refrigerator until you're ready to spin your sorbet.

** This recipe filled my popsicle mold and still had about 1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover, which I froze separately just as regular sorbet.

*** If you aren't going to enjoy the popsicles right away, after releasing the popsicle from its mold immediately wrap it in plastic wrap and place into a gallon-sized freezer bag and return to the freezer. Repeat with other popsicles, wrapping individually in plastic wrap and adding them to the gallon-sized freezer bag for storage.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/06/01/jenis-spinalong-watermelon-lemonade-popsicles/

[ Recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home ]

[ View Shannon’s Grilled Cantaloupe Sorbet here ]

mini chocolate chip cookie cups


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These tasty bite-sized treats take your ordinary chocolate chip cookie and turn it into a deep, chewy, cookie cup.  Plus, they’re perfectly bite-sized (hello, portion control!).  In case you, like me, are unable to eat just a bite of a giant cookie.  Or a regular-sized cookie.  Or, of anything…

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Yes, that’s me texting the BF …  Self control, I have none.

So yes, the beauty with these is that you don’t have to try to limit yourself to just a bite.  Instead, just to one cookie… or maybe two.  You can always stuff the rest in the freezer for convenient snacks for the future you.

I also took the opportunity to stuff a bunch of chocolate into the middles of them to make them like little molten-chocolate-stuffed cookies once you reheat them in the microwave… which is totally normal.  Because, everyone reheats their cookies before they eat them, right?

Although the BF seemed to think it was “too much” chocolate, as if that’s a thing!

I borrowed this recipe from Shannon over at A Periodic Table, you can get the recipe there or you can see it below :)

mini chocolate chip cookie cups

Yield: 24 cookie cups

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375?F; lightly grease the cups of a mini-muffin pan
  2. 2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugars and butter together until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and add vanilla and continue beating 30 more seconds until incorporated.
  4. 3. Add the flour mixture in 2 parts, beating on low just until incorporated. Gently fold in chocolate chips with a spatula.* Place dough in refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes.
  5. 4. Once chilled, remove dough from refrigerator and form into 1-inch balls. Place a dough ball in the muffin tin, pressing down to flatten the tops. Continue with the rest of the dough until each muffin tin has dough in it.
  6. 5. Bake for maybe 7-12 minutes, checking them at the 7 minute mark for doneness. Let the cookies cool in the muffin tin on a metal rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to continue cooling. If you have any issues getting them out you can wedge a thin knife or spatula between the cookie and the tin to loosen it.

Notes

* Alternatively, you can press a large chocolate chip or a couple of them into the middle of each cookie dough ball once it is in the muffin tin

http://wee-eats.com/2013/08/20/mini-chocolate-chip-cookie-cups/

[ Recipe from A Periodic Table ]

cookie cup pin

strawberry mascarpone tart

strawberry tart 1

Things that are difficult to take pictures of: ice cream, anything shiny, and this strawberry tart.

I almost didn’t post the recipe because I didn’t have any pictures that I deemed worthy, but instead I just settled on this picture, taken with the BF’s iPad.

Why?  Because this recipe needs to be shared, people.  It’s so easy, and so refreshing, and so… perfect.  It’s light, refreshing, and the right amount of sweet.

The kid in me prefers a Nilla Wafer crust, but you could use a regular pie crust all the same, just baked according to its own directions.  You could even use one of those store-bought graham crusts if you were extra short on time, I’m sure it would still taste great!

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

Makes 1 8- or 9- inch tart

Printable Recipe

For the Crust

•             2 2/3 cups vanilla wafer cookies

•             1 tbsp sugar

•             1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

•             4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

•             1 egg, whisked with 1 Tablespoon water

For the Filling

•             2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and sliced or quartered

•             1/2 cup white sugar

•             1 Tablespoon lemon zest

•             1 teaspoon lemon juice

•             8 ounces mascarpone cheese

•             4 ounces whipped cream

•             1/2 teaspoon vanilla

•             1/3 cup powdered sugar

•             1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Crush wafer cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Add melted butter and vanilla extract and continue processing until blended.  Dump into pie or tart pan and press firmly into bottoms and sides (I find using the bottom/sides of a glass to help press makes a big difference).
  2. Brush bottom of crust with whisked egg and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown; cool completely (up to overnight) before filling.

Make the filling

  1. Toss the strawberries with half of the zest, all of the juice, and sugar in a large bowl; set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. While the strawberries are macerating, mix the mascarpone cheese with lemon zest, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until well combined.  Gently fold in the whipped cream; refrigerate until needed.
  3. After 30 minutes, strain juice from strawberries into a small saucepan.  Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil of medium heat.  Reduce until thick enough to cover the back of a spoon, it should be like a syrup.  Set aside to cool.

Assemble the tart

  1.  Spread the mascarpone mixture over the bottom of the tart shell, top with strawberries (sometimes I arrange them fancily, other times I just dump them on top and spread them out, whatever your preference and energy levels call for that day), brush with balsamic syrup and chill until ready to serve.

 

[ Adapted from Simply Recipes ]

 

 

strawberry tart 1 pin

 

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day gets a lot of grief from an ever-growing anti-Valentine crowd.  The “nonbelievers” (as I shall call them) seem to think that it’s not a “real” holiday.  Another excuse is that you should show someone you love them every day and “not just on Valentine’s Day.”

So,  maybe Valentine’s Day has become overly-commercialized, unlike  St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras, which are “real” and happily-celebrated holidays (at least by the non-believers that I know).  And maybe it has been hijacked by greeting card and candy companies, unlike those other real holidays (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas and Easter).

I happen to like Valentine’s Day.  Possibly because I have a severe medium addiction to chocolate and will happily celebrate any holiday that make it acceptable for me to receive an entire box of it, but also because it’s a pretty easy holiday.  I only have one gift to buy, only one other person to feed, and I don’t have to binge-drink 1,000 pounds of green food coloring.  (Red food coloring is way better for your health, true story*)

*Totally not a true story.  Just made that up to support my argument. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is not about candy or presents, and you don’t need a special day to show someone that you love them (If you are only showing affection one day out of the year, there may be many issues at play there).  The BF and I do little things for each other every day, but going out of your way to not celebrate a day that is dedicated to the one(s) you love just seems like a silly concept.

To me, at least.

So, even if you do something special every day, why not do it on February 14th?  What did February 14th ever do to you?

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Even if you don’t have a sweetheart, you can spread the love to your friends and/or co-workers.   What’s wrong with having just one more day of the year that you can show the people you love (or just the people you spend your day with) that you care?

And, even if you’re still not convinced…  Even if you’re still set on being a Valentine Scrooge…

Even if you “don’t believe” in Valentine’s Day…

I’m pretty sure that you probably believe in brownies.

So, Scrooge, make these brownies on the 13th, or the 15th, or make them in April for all I care.

Make the frosting orange or blue or whatever color you want, crush up the hearts and sprinkle them on top, broken and shattered.

But please, don’t take your hatred of Valentine’s Day out on these poor, innocent brownies.  Don’t let your Scroogeness (totally a word) prevent you from trying these delicious, bite-size morsels.

So make these for your sweetheart, or your friends, or your co-workers, or yourself.

valentine brownie 1

Not super into the whole chocolate/strawberry combo?  The frosting recipe for this is like the easiest thing ever and infinitely adaptable.  You can just replace strawberry jam with the flavor of your choice:  Raspberry jam?  Peanut butter?  Nothing at all?  Whatever floats your boat.

After I made these, I totally realized that I did a strawberry and chocolate combo last year for Valentine’s Day, too.  What can I say, chocolate and strawberry is the BF’s favorite combo, and Valentine’s Day is all about him.

Well, for me it is.  Hopefully not for you.  That would just be silly.  (Plus I would totally fight you.*)

*Just kidding.  I love you.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  Have a brownie.

valentine brownie 2-2

Valentine Brownie Bites with Strawberry Marshmallow Frosting

Makes: 24 mini brownie bites with frosting

Note: Following the recipe from its source yielded WAY MORE than the 24 mini brownies that it claimed, I’ve provided the halved recipe below, which should give you enough for 24 brownie bites and frosting for each. 

Printable Recipe

For the brownies:

  • 1 cup  sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 7-ounce container of  marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup seedless strawberry jam
  • pink or red food coloring, if desired
  • decorations, if desired

Make the brownies:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin tin with 24 of the cutest  mini paper liners you can find.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.
3.  Spoon into 24 prepared mini paper liners and bake  for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of baking, turn the heat off and leave pan in the oven for another 5 to 6  minutes.  Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing individual brownie bites to a rack to cool completely.  The tops will be dry and slightly cracked.
(To make in standard muffin tins, bake for 19-20 minutes at 350°F, then turn off the oven and let sit for another 10 minutes before removing from the oven.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to complete cooling.)

Make the frosting:
1, In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add marshmallow fluff and continue beating until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix to incorporate, then and the jam and continue beating until it is evenly distributed.
At this point the frosting will be a light pink or red color depending on the jam you used, you can beat in food coloring (I did) to achieve your desired color.

2. Top brownie bites with frosting and sprinkles.  I scooped the frosting into a gallon-size ziplock and cut off one of the corners of the bag making an opening between ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.  Gently squeeze frosting into the cupcake, creating a frosting “bubble”.

[ Adapted from: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles ]
If you like these brownies, you may enjoy these other romantic sweets:
dsc_5818small  mocha brownie thumb  chocolate cake thumb

Sunday Brunch: Meyer Lemon Cake

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Two things:

1.  This cake is filled TO THE TOP with lemon flavor.

2.  It is probably the best lemon cake known to man.

Maybe not, but it might be.  I haven’t tried every lemon cake on the planet (yet). It has  a bright citrus flavor with a light and airy crumb… I don’t know how it happens, but it does.  And it’s magical.  Even though it’s no secret that I’m a chocolate girl at heart, every once in a while I crave something a little more… refreshing.  Plus, it’s not really acceptable to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Lemon cake, on the other hand, is totally legit.

Replacing the lemons called for in the recipe with meyer lemons allows the ctirus flavor to really shine and keeps it light and refreshing instead of having the citrus flavor assault your tongue.

Like, I love lemons, but if you give me a lemony treat I can usually only eat so much of it before my mouth is just tired of the lemon flavor.    It’s all “HEY I’M LEMON AND I’M HERE IN YO FACE,” where meyer lemon is like the regular lemon’s sweeter, more laid back cousin who is just like “Hey, what’s up? I’m kinda lemony and kinda sweet… whatevs.”

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That being said, if regular lemons are your thing (ahem, BFF), go with that.  I will happily use regular lemons later in the year when my darling meyer lemons are nowhere to be seen.

But, if you do get happen to find some meyer lemons in your basket at the store, bring them home and make this amazing sweet, citrusy cake.  You will not be sorry.  A little guilty, maybe, but not sorry.  Not too guilty though, this cake has yogurt so it’s good for you!  (Something like that)

Meyer Lemon Cake

Makes: 1 loaf

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

For the Soak:

  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a 8 x 5 inch loaf pan

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.

3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until mixed.  Gently fold in the vegetable oil until incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until done.

4. While the loaf bakes, make your lemon soak by heating ⅓ cup lemon juice and ⅓ cup sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside while loaf finishes baking.

5. When loaf is done baking, cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.  (To make clean-up easier, line the baking sheet with foil).  Pour the lemon soak over the loaf and allow it to soak in while the loaf continues to cool.

6. Once the loaf is completely cooled, make your lemon glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over cake to your liking.  Honestly, I think the cake was just perfect even WITHOUT the glaze, so if you want to skip this step, be my guest!

* Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt + 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

[ Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home ]