Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Nut Crust

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

An amazing event happened last week just in time for Mother’s Day. My friend Tami became a grandma. Tami’s daughter gave birth to a healthy 7 plus pound baby boy and both mom and baby are doing fine. She is the first of my friends from Yorktown to become a Grandma and because it is Mother’s Day this weekend, I wanted to honor her and her growing family with a gluten free strawberry tart. Tami, Alissa and her husband Victor are a great support to me and my blog and I am grateful for their continued interest and encouragement. A month ago, Tami sat by and watched as our book club friends ate two strawberry tarts I was testing. Now, it is Tami’s and her family’s turn to dig in and enjoy a gluten free nut crust tart filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and fresh strawberries.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart

My inspiration comes from a recipe in Jacques Pépin’s cookbook, Essential Pépin. His raspberry tart uses a pâte sucrée dough that he rolls out then shapes the tart by hand on a baking sheet. Once baked, the tart is filled with a layer of jam and fresh berries. Jacques Pépin makes everything look so easy. I am always in awe when I watch a video of him roll out pie dough in under 2 minutes like it is as familiar to him as his own hand.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

 Gluten Free Tart Pastry

Gluten free strawberry tart is a gluten free and nut version of a traditional sweet cookie pastry dough. I used white rice flour for its’ neutral flavor, butter, sugar, and ground and peeled pistachios. This is a very different gluten free nut pastry dough from the crust in my Double coconut pie . That pie crust is made with all nuts and egg whites, like a coconut meringue cookie. This tart I used a whole egg for extra strength, and it tastes like a shortbread cookie.

Gluten free pastry is fragile to say the least and this gluten free sweet cookie pastry dough is no exception.  Fortunately, I found the dough very easy to work with. It was soft, not too sticky, and rolled out nicely between sheets of plastic wrap. The challenges came later, when the dough became crust. Once baked, the gluten free tart crust is very fragile, and it broke apart easily whenever I touched the tart. It was very difficult to keep the tart crust in one piece while removing it from the pan. Afterwards, I started to wonder why all the recipes I researched never talked about how to get the tart crust out of the pan. Hmmm, very curious.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

After my third tart crust turned into cookie crumbles, I decided to make this a free form tart. It might look more rustic, but it stayed in one piece as I transferred the tart to a serving plate. Rustic is all right with me.

Regardless of the fragility, it tastes delicious. The strawberries are bright and sweet, and the crust is nutty and crumbly in a good way. The white flour gives the crust a grainier texture, but it compliments the ground pistachios.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Variations for a Gluten Free Strawberry Tart

First you can swap out the pistachios and substitute it with almonds or walnuts. Both those nuts pair nicely with other fruits.

Switch up the filling. You can make a pastry cream and top it with berries. Switch out the jam with another flavor. Change the fruit and use any berry or a mixture of fruit. Most fruit will taste great in a jam tart.

Chocolate ganache filling is wonderful in a strawberry tart. Take 3/4 cup heavy cream and bring to just a boil. Remove from the heat and add 6 oz of bittersweet chopped chocolate to the hot cream. Stir to melt the chocolate and let it cool until it starts to thicken. Pour the chocolate into the tart shell, then loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Add the strawberries.

If you want to make this with all-purpose flour, switch the white rice flour with 3/4 cup (106 g) all-purpose flour and add 4 TB of heavy cream instead of water. Omit the xanthan gum. This all-purpose flour pastry crust is the Sweet Nut Cookie Tart Crust recipe from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust and recipe.

Happy Mother’s Day

Tami, Alissa and Alissa’s husband Victor, are a great support to me and my blog and I am grateful for their continued interest and encouragement. Happy Mother’s Day.

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Nut Crust

An elegant strawberry tart gets a gluten free upgrade when made with a pistachio sweet pastry dough. The pastry is tender but crumbly like a giant nut cookie. The tart filling is a simple one filled with a thin layer of the best quality jam, or homemade, and fresh strawberries. 

To get that nice green color from the pistachios you need to peel off the thin dark skin off the nut. See recipe notes for how to do this. I bought my pistachios in bulk at a the grocery store with the skins already removed.  

You can substitute the pistachios with almonds or almond flour, or toasted walnuts. 

Course Dessert
Keyword gluten free strawberry tart
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chilling 2 hours
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Gluten free Pistachio Pâte Sucrée, Sweet Pastry Dough

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) pistachios peeled (see recipe notes)
  • 3 TB (45 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (162 g) white rice flour (more if the dough is too wet)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (see notes)
  • finely grated zest from half a lemon
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 TB (89 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB (15 ml) cold water

Strawberry Filling

  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) strawberry rhubarb jam (or your best quality strawberry or seedless raspberry jam)
  • 2 lb (1 liter) fresh strawberries
  • 3 TB (45 ml) seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 TB (15 ml) raspberry liquor
  • finely chopped pistachios for garnish
  • fresh basil or mint for garnish

Instructions

Gluten free pistachio Pâte Sucrée, Sweet Pastry Dough

  1. Lightly butter a piece of parchment paper and place on a rimmed baking sheet, at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide. Set aside. 

  2. Add the pistachios and the sugar to a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground, but not starting to turn into nut butter. Pour the ground pistachios with sugar into a medium size mixing bowl. 

  3. Add the white rice flour, Kosher salt, lemon zest, and xanthan gum. Stir with a fork to mix all the ingredients. 

  4. Cut the butter into small pieces then add them into the flour mixture. With clean hands, rub the butter into the flour until it is thoroughly mixed in. The dough will look like rough sand. 

  5. Add the egg and 1 TB of water and mix in with your hands. If the dough feels too wet, add more white rice flour 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will feel wet, but it should not be sticky.  

  6. Roll out the dough. Cut a piece of plastic wrap to make a 16-inch (40.5 cm) square. Depending on the width of your plastic wrap you may need to overlap two pieces of plastic wrap. Place on the counter where you will roll out the dough. Place the pistachio pastry dough in the center of the crust and flatten it with your hands into a disk. Cover the pistachio dough with more plastic wrap the same size as the bottom layer. 

  7. Roll out the pastry dough into a circle until it reaches 12-14 inches ((30.5 - 35.5 cm) in diameter. You are aiming for a 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thickness. 

  8. Drape the dough covered in plastic over your rolling pin. Remove the top piece of plastic and roll the pastry dough onto the prepared baking sheet, plastic side up. Remove the plastic wrap from the pastry dough. 

  9. Roll the edge of the dough inward about a half an inch, (1 cm), creating an edge for the tart. Roll the edge inward another 1/2 inch (1 cm) for a more defined edge. Make a decorative edge or keep as is. 

  10. Loosely cover the pistachio pastry with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. 

  11. 25 minutes before you plan on baking, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C/ Gas Mark 7). Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. 

  12. Remove the plastic wrap and pierce the bottom of the pastry dough with a fork. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375°F (190°C / Gas Mark 5). and bake for 10 -15 minutes, or until the tart is a light golden brown. Watch the tart carefully so it does not burn. 

  13. When done, place the baking sheet on a cooling rack and completely cool. Lift the parchment paper with the tart, supported underneath the tart with a large BBQ spatula or pancake spatula. Place the tart on the counter and remove the baking sheet.  Carefully slide an offset spatula under the tart to loosen it from the parchment paper. Slide the tart onto a serving plate. 

Assemble the tart

  1. Spread the strawberry rhubarb jam in an even layer over the bottom of the tart. Clean the strawberries and dry them. Remove the stem and arrange the strawberries around the tart and fill it up., cut side down.  You can add other fruit to fill any gaps between the strawberries, like blueberries or raspberries, if you wish. 

  2. Add the seedless raspberry jam and raspberry liquor in a microwave safe bowl. Stir to mix and warm up in 10 second intervals until it thins out. Baste the jam over the strawberries with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and other garnishes like chopped basil or mint. 

  3. Serve within an hour of assembly. This tart is best eaten within a couple of hours from when it is made. 

    If you do have leftovers, loosely cover the remaining tart with plastic wrap and keep on the counter. 

Recipe Notes

I was able to buy my pistachios in bulk which cut down the price and they already had the dark skins removed. If you cannot buy pistachios with the skins removed, buy roasted pistachios (preferably not salted) remove the shells and blanch in boiling water for one minute. 

Drain the pistachios from the water and place on a lint free and clean kitchen towel. Cover the pistachios with one side of the kitchen towel. With your hands on top of the towel, rub them back and forth until all the skins have come off. 

Separate the pistachios from their skins and set aside on a plate in an even layer.  Some skins on pistachios need extra encouragement and you may need to rub the skins off with your fingers.  Air dry the pistachios before using. 

 

Xanthan Gum helps stabilize gluten free ingredients, so they do not separate and makes it easier to work with.  Normally, Bob's Red Mill sells it in an 8 oz bag for $13.99 which is a lot if you only need a half teaspoon. If you plan to do a lot of gluten free baking buying that amount makes sense. Fortunately, some groceries sell xanthan gum packets made by Hodgson Mill and is more reasonably priced. 

 

Gluten free Strawberry Tart with Pistachio Crust. Gluten free strawberry tart recipe. A tender gluten free pâte sucurée dough made with ground pistachios and white rice flour. The tart is filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and fresh strawberries. A simple but elegant strawberry tart.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake, with a recipe.

Chocolate is a separate food group in my household and just like protein, I can’t live without it. Whenever I order a dessert in a restaurant, it is the chocolate desserts I gravitate to. However, I hesitate whenever I see a flourless chocolate cake on the menu because I do not know if it going to be fudge or cake. When it comes to flourless chocolate cake, I like them on the lighter side, not the ones that taste like dense fudge. It is not that I believe they taste bad, it is just they are very rich. The type of flourless chocolate cake I prefer, have a lighter airy texture, despite being moist and loaded with dark chocolate.

So far, I have come across two flourless chocolate cake recipes that satisfy my requirement of biting into a slice of cake, not a chunk of fudge. What makes them different from most flourless chocolate cake recipes out there is the use of finely ground nuts and whipped egg whites. The nuts act like a flour replacement and give the cake some texture and body. Also, because of the whipped egg whites, there is some air which gives the cake some lift and tastes light. Just like brownies, the cake is fudgy without being dense.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

The only challenging aspect to making a flourless chocolate cake is how fragile they are. Especially the types of cakes I prefer. Without the gluten to hold it together, the cake can easily break and crack. Transferring the cake off the bottom of the springform pan onto a serving dish requires the strength of all the good karma, prayers and best wishes you can muster. As well as patience and your best problem-solving skills. It is a very moist cake, especially in the middle which makes it very delicate.

My recipe is adapted from Diana Henry’s Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe in her cookbook, Simple. She uses ground almonds which I love, but I could not bring myself to use almonds a day after I wrote a post about Earth Day Recipes and how growing almonds in California is depleting their water supply. I will not give up almonds altogether, but I should leave some time before I start using them again.

Bitter Orange Chocolate Cake recipe

Flourless Chocolate Cake Variations

In my recipe I substitute almonds with ground walnuts and I added orange zest and Grand Marnier. Chocolate pairs well with many types of nuts, so you can’t go wrong using any type of nut. I do love walnuts and chocolate, especially with bitter orange flavors from orange zest and orange flavored liqueur. I kept all the proportions the same, but I also added Grand Marnier for an extra orange punch. There is just enough of the walnuts for a subtle nut flavor with the dark chocolate the focal point.

However, the addition of Grand Marnier makes the cake more fragile than without it. I believe this is because of the extra moisture in the cake batter. I don’t believe baking it longer will help. If you are concerned about the final show stopping appearance, then don’t add the Grand Marnier. The whipped cream has Grand Marnier in it, so the dessert will have the great chocolate and boozy orange flavor.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Removing the cake off the bottom of the spingform pan is challenging with this moist and delicate cake. If you don’t care, remove the sides of the pan and place the cake still on top of the pan’s bottom, on a serving plate. No one will care or notice while they are enjoying your delicious cake. Or, you can try lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to see if that helps. If your cake does break don’t despair, you can break it up and make ice cream sundaes with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce, whipped cream with orange flavors and candied orange peel. Or, cut the cake up into bite size pieces for people to nibble on with their coffee or tea.

Orange Essence Flourless Chocolate Cake is worth making regardless of its delicate nature. Because the chocolate is the dominate flavor, use the best quality of chocolate you can buy with 70%- 72% cocoa butter. I have great success with Lindt chocolate and Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate, twilight delight found in candy section of the grocery store. Here is a link for more information on the best chocolate bars for baking from Serious Eats.

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Enjoy!

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

An effortless flourless chocolate cake with intense dark chocolate flavor and a light and nutty texture. The cake is very moist and fudgy but not dense.   

Serve with whipped cream 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Flourless chocolate cake

  • 6.75 oz (192 g) unsalted butter about 1 2/3 sticks
  • 11.5 oz (328 g) good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 70% coco solids
  • 3/4 cup (164 g) super fine sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) ground walnuts (see note)
  • finely grated zest from half a navel orange
  • 2 TB Grand Marnier Optional
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting the cake

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 TB confectioners' sugar or to taste
  • Zest from half an orange
  • 2 TB Ground Marnier or a 1/2 teaspoon of Orange Blossom Water

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177°C /Gas Mark 4) oven. Butter an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium metal mixing bowl, add the broken-up chocolate, the butter and sugar to the bowl. 

  3. Add some water to a large 10-inch (25.5 cm) skillet just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Set on a burner over medium heat. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and place the bowl with the chocolate, butter and sugar in the center of the skillet. Melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Do not let the water get to a brisk boil. Keep it at a gentle simmer, being careful not to splash water into the chocolate. 

  4. Remove the bowl from the skillet just before all the butter has melted and stir until all the chocolate and butter has melted. Let the chocolate cool for four minutes. 

  5. Add the egg yolks one at a time to the chocolate, stirring between each addition until each yolk is incorporated. 

  6. In a separate bowl, with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff with soft peaks and still wet. Soft peaks will form when you lift out the beaters. Gently fold in the Grand Marnier if using. 

  7. Add the orange zest to the ground walnuts and mix together. Add the walnut mixture to the chocolate and half of the whipped egg whites. Fold into the chocolate. Then fold in the remaining egg whites. 

  8. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and place on a rimmed sheet pan in case it leaks.  Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. 

  9. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a cake rack. Don't get upset if you see the cake deflate and crack as it cools. When the cake is completely cool, unlatch the pan and carefully remove the sides. Run an icing spatula, or thin sharp knife under the cake to loosen. It helps to clean off the spatula or knife every time you pull it out from under the cake. Carefully transfer the cake onto a serving plate.

  10. Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar right before serving. 

Whipped Cream

  1. Right before serving, use a hand-held mixer and whip the heavy cream until it just holds its shape. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar and Grand Marnier, if using. Whip until combined soft peaks form. Taste and correct the whipped cream for sweetness and the Grand Marnier. Place in a small serving bowl. 

  2. Serve the whipped cream with the cake and extra fruit, like berries. 

Recipe Notes

Before you start the cake, toast the walnuts in a preheated 350°F (177 °C / Gas Mark 4) oven. Spread a couple of handfuls (60 g) of the walnuts over a small rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 7 minutes. Spread the toasted walnuts over a clean lint free kitchen towel. Fold a portion of the towel over the nuts to cover and rub the towel with the walnuts back and forth to remove the walnut skin. No need to go crazy rubbing off all the skin. Rub back and forth a few times until no more skin comes off without scrubbing. Collect the walnuts leaving the loose skin behind and grind the walnuts in a food processor. 

Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake. A flourless chocolate cake recipe made with ground walnuts and flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier. It has intense dark chocolate flavor complemented with the bitter orange essence. A very moist and light cake.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Maida’s Lemon Cake

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe.

Everyone needs those back-pocket recipes at their fingertips and Maida’s Lemon Cake is one of mine. Maida Heatter’s, “The Best Damn Lemon Cake” comes from her cookbook, Cakes and her New Book of Great Desserts. She explains in the recipe’s summary the cake got its name from the first thing her friends said after taking one bite. She is the guru of baked desserts and celebrated her 90th birthday last year. I have always found her desserts reliable and well tested, especially her cake recipes. They are all classics that never go out of style.

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe.

Lemon cakes come in so many shapes, sizes and styles and this recipe is no exception. It is a loaf cake with a light lemon glaze on top that soaks into the cake. Early in my marriage, I made this lemon cake all the time. Unfortunately, I stopped because baking for pleasure was replaced with the pleasure of taking care of my children with a couple of baking projects squeezed in between.

Recently, I was reminded of this lemon cake recipe after being treated to a slice of Lemon Lulu Cake from Mother Myrick’s Bakery (A bakery in Manchester VT.) They are different types of lemon cakes, but the bright lemon flavor is similar. Lemon Lulu cake has a lighter texture and made in a Bundt pan, whereas Maida’s Lemon Cake has ground almonds in the mix and keeps its’ moisture even after a couple of days.

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe.

The only downside to this recipe is, it is not something to make at the last minute. Ideally, the cake rests for 12-24 hours before you serve it. During this resting period the cake’s lemon flavor gets more pronounced and the cake becomes very moist from the glaze. You must plan accordingly. Yet, the advanced planning has its merits too. Bake it a day or two before you need it leaves you with more time to do other activities on the day of. Also, this cake gets better with age. It freezes well, is perfect for travel, picnics and gifts.

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe

Best Types of Cake pans for Lemon Cake

My lemon cake did not rise as high as it should because my aluminum loaf pan is larger than the one specified in the recipe. It is hard to come by an 8½ x 4½ x 2¼ inch (21 x 11 x 6 cm) heavy-duty aluminum loaf pan that does not have a Teflon coating, made of glass, or made with a dark metal. These materials are all no-no’s in Maida’s book. I am partial to Nordic Ware baking pans, but their loaf pan has an 8 cup (2 L) capacity. Chicago Metallic makes a loaf pan with the right dimensions and material as well as Wilton and Williams and Sonoma.

My cake is also darker, because it cooked faster because the pan was not made with heavy-duty aluminum. My pan is a generic lightweight aluminum pan I bought over 30 years ago at the grocery store.  It might be a lightweight, but it is still going strong and baked it fair share of Pumpkin Bread over the years.

This baking experience reminded me, I should trust my instinct and not always follow a recipe blindly, I knew I should have checked the cake earlier than specified, but I followed the directions instead. Fortunately, I do not mind a darker crumb and the glaze keeps everything moist. See the links in the Notes of the recipe for the types of adjustments to make if you use glass or dark metal pans.

Maida's Lemon Cake, a recipe.

 Lemon Cake

The only adjustment I made to the recipe is I added almond meal (flour) instead of blanched almonds. It is not always easy to grind nuts as fine as you can get with almond meal. Often the almonds start turning into a paste before you get the right consistency you want. Do not add a half cup of almond meal, measure the almond meal by weight, not volume. The two measurements are not equal. You may use the volume and weight measurement for the blanched almonds.

If you have the almond meal use that to flour the pan instead of bread crumbs. It will do the same job and add extra almond flavor to the loaf.

Why all the fuss about baking pans?

More Lemon Desserts

Maida Heatter’s Lemon Mouse, Lemon Saffron Syrup Cake, Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi’s and Passion Fruit Glaze

Maida's Lemon Cake

When Maida Heatter explains her name for "The Best Damn Lemon Cake," came from the first things her friends said after taking a bite. You just know it is good. Everyone needs a reliable lemon cake to bring to friends or just add some sunshine at the end of a meal. This loaf cake has great sweet lemon flavor but is not too sweet to turn you off. It is great paired with coffee and tea. I also like it with fresh berries. 

The instructions say to let the cake sit for 12-24 hours before serving so plan accordingly. I found the cake is even more delicious the day after it is made.

See recipe Notes for specifics about the loaf pan used to make the cake with. If you do not have the exact loaf pan, no worries. Just make the necessary adjustments recommended in the articles. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 -10 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Lemon Cake

  • ½ cup (60 g) blanched almonds (or 60 g almond meal)
  • cup (185 g) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ lb (115 g) butter 1 stick
  • 1 cup (235 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) whole milk
  • 1 oz (29 ml) real lemon extract 1- 1 fl oz bottle
  • Freshly grated zest from 2 extra large, or 3 medium lemons

Lemon Glaze

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 TB (113 g) granulated sugar (4 oz)
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) fresh squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

Lemon Cake

  1. Set the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven at 350°F (175°C / Gas Mark 4). Butter an 8½ x 4½ x 2-inch (21 x 11 x 6 cm) loaf pan with a 6 cup (1.5 L) capacity. Lightly dust the loaf pan with very fine bread crumbs or almond meal and set aside. (See note about pan). Line the bottom of the prepared loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. 

  2. Ground the almonds in a food processor or nut grinder till they are very fine but are not getting pasty. Or use the almond meal. 

  3. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and Kosher salt to a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside

  4. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan set over low heat. Cool slightly before using.   

  5. In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the melted butter and sugar. (Make sure the eggs are cool enough so they will not cook the eggs.) Turn the speed to medium and beat to mix. Turn down the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing each egg in the batter between each additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. 

  6. While the mixer remains on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions and alternate with the milk in two additions. Beat in the ingredients thoroughly between each addition but be careful not to over-mix the cake batter. Also, stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the lemon extract and beat it in. 

  7. Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl. Add the lemon zest and ground almonds (or almond meal) to the batter and stir in with a rubber spatula. 

  8. Pour the cake batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 65-75 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake and all the way to the bottom, comes out "just barely clean". The cake will crack down the middle because the outside cooks faster than the inside of the cake. This causes the cake to crack as the insides cook and the cake rises. 

  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it rest in the pan for 2 minutes on a cooling rack. 

  10. After the two-minute cool, slowly baste the lemon glaze over the top of the cake. Take your time basting the cake so a nice even glaze coats the top of the cake and soaks into the body, about 5 minutes. 

  11. Let the cake rest in the pan until it is tepid, mostly cooled down. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake to loosen it out of the pan. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Turn the cake right side up and cool on the rack. 

  12. Once completely cooled, wrap the cake with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let it rest on the counter for 12 - 24 hours. Or place in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Or the freezer for 2 hours before serving. I prefer the results after the 12-24 hour period, but if you need it for the same day then the freezing options works fine. Just let it defrost before you serve it. 

Lemon Glaze

  1. A couple of minutes before the cake is done cooking, make the glaze. Add the sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let the syrup come to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside until needed. 

Recipe Notes

Maida is very specific about what type of pan will produce the best results. You might think it is a lot of smoke about nothing but for baking, everything you use from ingredients to the oven affect the final outcome of your baked good.  She is adamant about not using a non-stick pan, dark metal pan, and glass loaf pan. Her pan of choice is a heavy-duty aluminum pan. From my experience, I agree with her about the dark metal pans and glass pans, they do not bake as nicely as a heavy-duty light-colored aluminum pan does.   

I used a large aluminum loaf pan, but it was not a heavy-duty one. It cooked up faster than the recipe suggested and got darker. It was either that or use my dark metal non-stick pan, which would have been two strikes against me. If you can't take her advice, use the loaf pan you have, but be forewarned. Why you should not bake a cake with a dark pan. Why you should not bake a cake in a glass pan. These articles give advice how to work with these types of pans when you need to bake with them.  

Maida's Lemon Cake. Recipe for a lemon cake, with sweet lemon flavor and is very moist. The unexpected ingredient is ground almonds for more texture and a nuttier flavor. Easy dessert recipe. From Maida Heatter's cookbook, Cakes, "The Best Damn Lemon Cake".

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Best Dessert Recipes

Looking over my blog posts I felt I needed some more dessert recipes, especially cake recipes. It is always good to collect dessert recipes ranging from easy to more challenging that you feel comfortable with. To add to my collection, I set out to publish a post for a yellow cake with chocolate ganache recipe today, but things did not work out as planned.

It all started when I made a cake from a recipe from Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugar. Baking with less sugar is a goal of mine and a personal passion for Joanne Chang because her husband does not tolerate sugar well. I found, with this recipe, that just because there is less refined sugar does not mean it is low in fat. Quite the contrary.

Her cake was lovely, but the ganache frosting was an epic fail. Ganache is sometimes temperamental depending on the type of chocolate one uses. From my experience ganache sets easily by cooling it on the counter. This time something was off. Everything was fine until I put the ganache in the refrigerator as directed to set the ganache. This was the catalyst that turned everything upside down. The ganache hardened so much I could not penetrate the surface with a spoon. Almost as hard as a bar of chocolate. I whipped it with my hand-held mixer and it looked like seized chocolate mixed with over-whipped cream. It was awful.

Ughhh! I blame it on the butter. Immediately I made a second batch of ganache, without refrigerating it, and finished frosting the cake. Unfortunately, I did not love it. The ganache was very bitter, and I did not love the texture. Also, after a couple of hours the cake dried out.

Moving On

Instead of coming up with a new layer cake recipe, I decided to put together a post with links to some of my dessert recipes. Also included are a couple of links to dessert recipes from other websites. Everything in one place for easy access.

The spring is a time of celebration whether for graduations, new beginnings, and major life events. Make your celebrations special by making a homemade dessert. Here is a collection ranging from quick and easy to involved. All are tested and delicious.

Dessert Recipes for Cake

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Cream cake recipe

Nifty Cake made with a sponge cake and whipped cream frosting with fresh fruit. I used to make this for my Dad’s birthday cake in July. Berries are available now, although not quite in season in my area, so instead of peaches, make the cake with strawberries and or blue berries. It is a cake version of strawberry shortcake and always a crowd pleaser.

Gluten Free Nifty Cake made with an gluten free sponge cake recipe

If you want a gluten free cake, I have a Gluten Free Nifty Cake made with gluten free oat flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Celebrate with Pink Champagne Cake recipe

For a special occasion, like for a bridal shower, birthday or graduation, this recipe for Pink Champagne Cake is lovely. My recipe differs from the traditional recipe because I made it with an Italian buttercream not with the traditional American buttercream. Pink champagne cake has a subtle strawberry and champagne flavor that grows on you. I love this cake and can’t wait for a special occasion to make it again. Then again, why wait? My recipe is adapted from the cookbook American Cake by Anne Byrn.

Chocolate Stout Cake recipe

Chocolate Stout Cake is a delicious chocolate cake made with chocolate chili stout. You won’t necessarily taste the stout, but it makes the chocolate more enhanced. The white chocolate cream cheese frosting is to die for especially with the chocolate stout glaze.

Best Dessert Recipes , Decadent Chocolate Cake

If a simple chocolate cake is what you are looking for, an old standby for me is Decadent Chocolate Cake by the Silver Palate.

This recipe from Fine Cooking is the one I should have published today because I have made it on several occasions. Four Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. This cake is a yellow cake with raspberry jam and chocolate buttercream frosting. It is very impressive looking even though it is made with your basic cake components. You will have to click-through a couple of links to the yellow cake and chocolate buttercream frosting.

Dessert Recipes for Pies

On this blog I have a couple of recipes for galettes and one crust-less apple pie. Clearly, I need to make some more. Personally, I love the ease of galettes especially during the summer months. You can use the galette recipes as a base and substitute with seasonal fruit. Lemon plums are in season now and taste great in a galette made with mixed berries. Or make a galette with apples and dried apricots.

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette recipe

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette

Almond Peach Galette Recipe

 

Almond Cherry Peach Galette

Swedish Apple Pie Recipe

Swedish Apple Pie

Double coconut pie recipe

For a gluten free pie try Double Coconut Pie. This is like eating a giant macaroon cookie.

Other Dessert Recipes

Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme, a recipe.

For the Nutella lover in the family, Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme. This is my husband’s favorite dessert. Smooth and silky with a little kick of sriracha with the chocolate.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

For a refreshing custard, Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta. Instead of figs you can substitute pears, or caramelized citrus. The panna cotta has a lovely tang from the yogurt and is silky smooth. This is a gelatin dessert, so it is not vegetarian.

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches and Berries with Bourbon Sabayon Traditionally sabayon is made with champagne or Marsala wine, but for this recipe I made it with bourbon to pair with the peaches. Sabayon is an elegant dessert made with whipped eggs combined with whipped cream. Sabayon should not be confused with Zabayon, a similar dessert made from whipped eggs, Marsala and served warm.

Lemon Mousse is one of my favorite desserts. This recipe is very light and airy from Maida Heatter’s New Book of Great Desserts. This mousse is perfect for this time of year when we are between winter and spring fruit availability.

Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce, recipe.

Ever since I first made a pavlova, I put this dessert in the Five Star category. A classic dessert like early Hollywood actresses such as Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly It is exquisite with exceptional taste. Here is a recipe for Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit sauce. You can get the passion fruit pulp at your grocery store located in the Latin American food section of the frozen foods aisle.

Try making a vegan pavlova using Aquafaba Meringue with berries and coconut whipped cream. This recipe is from one of my first recipe posts when after three trials I could not whip coconut milk for the life of me. Since then, I have made whipped cream from the fat of full fat coconut milk with great success, especially when using Trader Joe’s brand.

Happy Spring

My promise to myself and my readers is, I will post nothing on this website that I am not satisfied with. Even though my son and husband thought there was nothing wrong with the cake, I just did not love it. I did not feel this was the type of cake that people will find irresistible and sneak in a slice for a midnight snack.

On the other hand, the above recipes are tried and true. I am looking forward to a new season and learning new dessert recipes to share with you.

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, reicpe

When you crave fudgy brownies like nothing else matters, sometimes the only way to satisfy this desire is make them for yourself. It is my experience, homemade brownies have just the right texture and flavor that I want. There were too many times I bought a brownie at a gourmet store and they were dry and dull. I guess I am very particular about my brownies. Fortunately, it is not difficult to make good fudgy brownies at home.

Other than the dark chocolate, what I love about making brownies from scratch is I can mix them by hand. It doesn’t take a lot of whisking, whipping or timing, just a good stir to mix everything up. For the novice baker, homemade brownies are a good place to start learning how to bake.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, recipe

This recipe is from Ina Garten’s Salted Caramel Brownies from her book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. Ina’s cookbooks and recipes are very well organized and constructed. You can trust her to present each recipe clearly, accurately and efficiently. Her brownies are dangerously delicious. They have deep dark chocolate flavor with just the right amount of moisture without being gooey. For all brownie lovers out there, chocolate fudgy brownies with rich caramel and flaky sea salt drizzled over the top are a masterpiece. There is nothing that grabs your attention like chocolate, caramel and sea salt all in one delectable brownie bite. This is a happy marriage.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, recipe 

I made two changes to Ina Garten’s recipe. In the original recipe she uses semisweet chocolate chips in the brownies chocolate foundation. Chocolate chips have additional ingredients besides cocoa butter and sugar and I believe should only be used as chips. Sometimes, melted down chocolate chips has a chalky flavor and grainy texture. This is not something I want in my brownies. A bar of good quality semisweet chocolate melted with a bar of unsweetened chocolate gives the brownies a lighter texture and a purer chocolate flavor.

The other change I made is, I use less caramel sauce than she recommends in her recipe. She specifies 5 ounces of caramel sauce to drizzle over the brownies. That is a lot of caramel sauce and looks more like frosting on a cake then a glaze. Feel free to adjust the amount of caramel sauce according to your preference.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, recipe.

Caramel Sauce for Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel

If you are buying caramel sauce, please seek out real caramel sauce. The common brands you’ll find in a super market are mostly made with artificial flavor and corn syrup. You want the real deal to drizzle over your homemade real chocolate brownies. Ina Garten recommends Fran’s, but I also like Cara Sel and Fat Toad Farm Caramel. Fran’s is a company out of Washington that specializes in chocolates. Cara Sel comes from a family run company in the NY Hudson Valley. You can find their caramel sauce in stores all over NY State and on-line. Fat Toad Farm is a family run farm in Vermont and their caramel sauce is made with goat’s milk. All three sauces are delicious artisan caramel sauces you can buy online or in specialty stores. Use any brand you like, but please make sure it is the real stuff.

Often, I make caramel sauce while these brownies bake in the oven. It takes about 20 minutes and is something worth knowing how to make. Loaded fudgy brownies have a lot of dark chocolate, almost 12 ounces worth, plus 6 ounces of chocolate chips. Depending on what brand chocolate you buy, brownie ingredients are expensive. Add another $10 to $16 for a 6 oz jar of caramel sauce turns these homemade brownies into gold.

The caramel sauce recipe I use is from Simply Recipes on the web.  It makes caramel sauce using the dry method, which I prefer because it takes less time and I am impatient. Here is a recipe for caramel sauce using the wet method. It takes longer but the sugar melts at an even rate. Also, it does not have butter in it. You need a good heavy-bottom 3-quart sauce pan to prevent the sugar from burning. Follow the directions carefully and please take the necessary precautions so hot caramel does not bubble over your mixing hand.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, recipe.

Tips for Making Fudgy Brownies

  • One special piece of equipment you need is a double boiler to melt the chocolate and butter. If you do not have a double boiler, make one by fitting a small heat proof mixing bowl over a 3-quart sauce pan filled with less than an inch of water.
  • While melting the chocolate in a double boiler, keep the heat medium-low and make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the pan, or bowl holding the chocolate.
  • Allow for several minutes to cool the chocolate before you add it to the eggs and sugar. If the chocolate and butter are too hot, it will cook your eggs.
  • Before you add the chocolate chips to the brownie mix, allow some time for the mix to come to a cool room temperature. This insures the chips don’t melt and ruin the brownies.
  • Be careful not to over bake the brownies. They are done when a tooth pick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean. If you do over bake them they will still taste good, but they won’t be as moist.

Whenever you need to bring a dessert to a friend’s house, a hostess gift, a dessert for a weekend getaway, or a last minute get together, these brownies will please everyone who loves chocolate. I even mailed them as a care package to Taylor in college. Fudgy brownies with sea salt and caramel are a family favorite.

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel

Dark chocolate fudgy brownies with rich caramel sauce and flaky sea salt. It just doesn't get any better than this. This recipe is slightly adapted from Ina Garten's Salted Caramel Brownies from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof Cookbook To make your own caramel sauce try either of these recipes from Serious Eats or Simply Recipes or buy real caramel sauce at a specialty store.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12 brownies
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • ½ lb 226 g unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces about 1 TB in size
  • 8 oz 227 g semisweet chocolate, broken in to irregular pieces
  • 3 oz 75 g unsweetened chocolate, broken into irregular pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • TB 6 g instant coffee granules, like Medaglia D'Oro or Café Bustelo
  • 1 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 TB 246 g granulated sugar
  • ½ cup 71 g plus 2 TB (17 g) all-purpose flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 oz 172 g semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2-4 oz 60-125 ml caramel sauce
  • 2-3 tsp flaky sea salt such as Maldon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 12 x 1½ inch (23 x 30 x 4 cm) baking pan. (preferably metal)
  3. Make a double boiler by placing a medium bowl resting on the rim of a 3 qt sauce pan filled no more than an inch (2.5 cm) of water. Turn the heat to medium-high and place the butter, semisweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in the bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter. Every now and then, carefully stir the chocolate and butter. Watch to make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Once melted, remove the bowl from the sauce pan and cool for 15 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl stir together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Do not beat the eggs, just stir to combine.
  6. After the 15-minute cooling time, slowly add the melted butter and chocolate to the eggs and sugar mixture. Pour about a quarter of the chocolate into the mix and stir to temper the brownie mix. Slowly add the remaining melted chocolate and butter and stir at the same time. Once mixed together, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. See note.
  7. In a medium bowl add the ½ cup (71 g) flour, baking powder, and Kosher salt. Use a small whisk and whisk the flour mixture until the flour, baking powder and salt are evenly combined. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour bowl with the remaining 2 TBS of all-purpose flour until they become nicely coated. Add the chocolate chips and flour into the chocolate brownie mix. Stir to mix.
  8. Pour the brownie mix into the prepared pan and spread to form an even layer.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, or when a tooth pick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. The edges will look slightly dry and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not over bake. The brownies will continue to bake while it is cooling.
  10. Remove the brownies from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  11. When the brownies are just out of the oven, heat up your caramel sauce in a microwave until it thins out to a pouring consistency. Stir the caramel sauce until smooth.
  12. Evenly drizzle the caramel sauce over the hot brownies, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  13. Completely cool the brownies before cutting into serving pieces.

Recipe Notes

Cooling the chocolate brownie mix to a cool room temperature is crucial. If the brownie mix is too warm when you add in the chocolate chips, all the chocolate chips will melt and ruin the brownies.

Nutrition Facts
Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel, recipe. Deliciously addictive Chocolate Brownie recipe with caramel sauce and sea salt drizzle . Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Salted Caramel Brownies.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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