Ginger & Lemon Cream Sandwich Cookies

So let’s talk about things we like.  Yes let’s.  And go!  Ok ginger, we love ginger. Gingerbread. Gingersnaps. Little gingerbread men!  And houses!  Ginger houses!  With gum drop door frames and candy cane light posts!

What?  What’s that you say? 

Er, well, we suppose ginger might be a more traditional holiday festive flavor…ok so seasonally appropriate was never our strong suit.  We wear white jeans past Labor Day.  Yeah, we’re rebels like that. 

And um also…we want ginger now…

So what if we add some lemon?  Yes lemon! Lemon cream actually.  I know, deliciously genius.  Fresh lemon juice, zest and sugar!  And ginger!  Now we’re talking summertime...yes you summer...can you hear us?  Lemon and ginger - hurrah!

Ginger & Lemon Cream Sandwiches
Makes 10 cookie sandwiches
Adapted from Big, Fat Cookies

Print Recipe

For the cookies:
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almonds, toasted and finely ground

For the lemon cream:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Sift the flour, salt, ginger, and cinnamon into a medium bowl and set aside.

In an electric mixer beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the lemon zest, vanilla and ground almonds. Mix in the flour mixture just incorporated and the dough holds together and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Divide the dough in half and form two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is cold and firm, at least 45 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 325° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the disks to about ¼ inch thick.  Use a round cookie cutter to cut out 3½-inch circles. Using a spatula, place cookie dough on prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart.   Repeat the process with the second piece of dough and any remaining scraps.  Cut a 1 inch circle out from the center of half of the cookies.  You can bake the small cut-outs along with the larger cookies (for snacks of course!).  Bake the cookies until the edges are light brown, 17-20 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemon cream:
Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice until smooth and fluffy – about 2-4 minutes.

To assemble the cookie sandwiches:
Spread 2 tablespoons of filling over the bottom side of each cookie without the hole. Top each one with one of the cookies with the holes.

To store:
Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Before serving, bring cookies to room temperature.


Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

We don't mind working hard. Sometimes the results are so much more satisfying when we've put a lot of work into something.

Like cleaning our apartments top to bottom including the dusty bits under the furniture and Magic Erasing all the scuffs off the walls (seriously, where do they all come from). Or putting together the *perfect* mix CD for a deserving friend. 

We don't mind baking hard either. The delicious creaminess of homemade ice cream or the triumphant pouf of a souffle are completely worth the time and agony. 

But sometimes, we just want to hire a cleaning lady and play MTV Party to Go Volume 2. Uh, do those compilations still exist because they could only have gone downhill after Volume 2 which was amazing.

And, sometimes we just want to buy some Ben & Jerry's, bake brownies from a box and call it a night.

Wait. We're joking about the brownies in a box, Mummy! We would never ever do such a thing to you except maybe once when it was the mix from Trader Joe's with the pig on it because it looked cute and how bad can anything be from Trader Joe's? Those people are miracle workers.

However, we do sometimes makes these mini-muffins which are basically as easy as brownies from a box. They require 2 bowls, 0 muffin-tin liners, and 2 measuring cups. And yet, surprisingly, they are incredibly moist and flavorful as the espresso brightens the chocolate flavor just enough.

Literally no one will ever believe they were so easy to make and we certainly won't tell them.

Banana Chocolate Chip Espresso Mini-Cakes
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Baked

Print Recipe

1 ½ cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (or more) semisweet mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or, using paper towel, wipe the inside of each cup with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, vanilla and egg.

In another medium bowl, whisk or sift together the dry ingredients; flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. It’s ok if there are still some pockets of flour in the mix, it’s more important not to over blend the ingredients. Gently fold in the mini-chips. Be generous with them.

Fill each muffin tin about to the top of the cup. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are semi-firm and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean-ish.

Move the muffin tin to a cooling rack and let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Gently turn the muffins out of the tin onto the cooling rack themselves for another 15 minutes.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Almond Milk Granita

So we’re confused.  I mean, we get the whole it gets warmer in the summer thing, sunshine, beaches, popsicles, hurrah yay summertime…but um, when did exactly did the northeast US relocate to the dead center of the equator?  Did we miss that?  Was it during the Hills series finale?  Because if it was we totally missed it.  We had to focus all our attention on the witty banter and confusing storyline.

But seriously.  If it’s going to be 3749 degrees with 110% humidity for the foreseeable future – we’re going to need something cold.

Cold and easy.  Because whisking, whipping and movement in general takes rather a lot of energy.  You know, since we moved to the equator and all.  Did we mention it’s hot here?

And since half of this blue-eyed baking blogging duo lives her life sans-ice cream maker (we know, the horror) – we’ll have to think of something that requires less equipment.  So let’s make some granita!  Yaaaaay!

Almond milk granita…oh lovelies…it’s so good.  And it is SO COLD.  And it is kind of ridiculously simple.  Oooh oooh and it tastes delicious with all that juicy summer fruit that’s hanging around these days.  Throw in some balsamic vinegar, maybe some whipped cream and people will start thinking you’re real fancy.

Fancy.  And hot.

Almond Milk Granita

Print Recipe

1 cup whole almonds, toasted
1 quart whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the almonds in a pie plate or oven proof skillet and toast in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes.  Transfer the almonds to a plate to cool and chop them up.  Transfer the almonds to a heat proof bowl.

Combine 2 cups of milk and the sugar in a sauce pan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour the hot milk over the almonds and steep for 1-2 hours.  Strain.

Add the salt and almond extract and remaining cold milk to the almond milk.  Pour into a shallow pan and freeze until semi solid.  Scrape the almond milk with a fork every 15 minutes until the granita forms.


Lime Curd Tart with Blackberries & Blueberries

There are a lot of traits we did not inherit from our mother; her propensity to be perpetually late, her bizarre, potentially psychological need to load the kitchen counters with clutter of all sorts and her way with romance languages (senors, no parle pas le francais bueno). 

There are of course many traits that we did inherit from our mummy; her blue eyes naturally, her penchant for blue and white china and Hermes scarves, and, thankfully, that ever-so rare English intuition when it comes to custard.


That’s right. Custard. We said it. Otherwise stated as “all things involving heating eggs and/or milk to a point that renders them cooked (but not scrambled) and rather produces a silky smooth pudding-like consistency to be utilized in, well, er, custards, curds and ice creams.” 

Yes. We just quoted ourselves. 

But, seriously, folks. Custard or curd making doesn’t have to be a genetic inevitability. You can teach yourself as well. Here’s what you need; humility, patience and confidence.

No, really. It is that easy! We don’t want to hear any of that negativity on this blog! What’s the worse that can happen? You buy some more eggs and start again? For this recipe, you can make practically everything in advance so there is plenty of time for you to mess it up and start again!  YAY! You can do it! 

Il est facile, nuestros pequenos choux!

Lime Curd Tart with Blackberries & Blueberries
Makes 1 tart and serves 8 people
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010

Print Recipe

For the lime curd:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¾ cup fresh lime juice (about 8 limes)
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

For the Topping:
2 6-ounce containers fresh blackberries
1 6-ounce container fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon blackberry or blueberry jam

For the Crust:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 large pinch of salt

For the lime curd: Set fine metal strainer over medium bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in another medium metal or glass bowl to blend. Whisk in lime juice. Set bowl over large saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). 

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. We tried using a thermometer but it interferes with the intuitive process of just knowing when the curd is done. The bubbles will have almost completely disappeared and the color of the curd will have brightened considerably. Remember, humility, patience and confidence.

Immediately pour curd through prepared strainer set over bowl. Add butter to warm strained curd; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until blended and smooth. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd, covering completely. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.

DO AHEAD: Lime curd can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For the crust:
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.  (Note: Do not use a Kitchen Aid mixer because there is not enough volume to successfully blend in the bowl unless you were to double this tart crust recipe.) Add egg yolk; beat to blend. Add flour and salt and mix on low speed until mixture resembles large, wonky peas. Using hands, knead in bowl just until dough comes together.

Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Break dough into pieces like tiny bits of Play Dough. Press one hand over the edge of the tart pan and use the other to push the dough evenly up the sides and onto the bottom of the tart pan. Cover and chill 1 hour. 

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover crust and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

For the topping: 
Remove sides from tart pan and place crust on plate. But note, the tart crust is delicate...handle with care! Spread lime curd evenly in baked crust. Arrange blackberries in 2 concentric circles just inside edge of tart, bottoms up! Not how we did it because it just didn’t look as nice. Mound blueberries in center of tart.

Place jam in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until jam is melted, about 15 seconds. Whisk to loosen and blend, adding water by teaspoonfuls if thick. Brush jam over berries.

DO AHEAD: Tart can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Chill uncovered.


Peanut Butter & Bacon Cookies

We did something bad.  And of course by bad we mean good, as all baking bads are actually baking goods.  But, we were really bad.  Elvis bad.

Oh yes, we did.  We went there.  There being here.

We came.  We saw.  We ate.  Bought the t-shirt.  And the matching hat.  Peanut butter.  Bacon.  It happened.  It so happened.  Deal with it.  We did.

And by deal with it we mean we ate every. single. cookie.  And kind of a lot of the cookie dough.  But we don't need to talk about that part.

But we need to talk about these cookies.  And we need to talk about how amazing they are.  Do you like peanut butter?  We'll assume the answer is "oh yes lots and lots!"  Aaaaand do you like bacon?  We'll assume the same answer, but add more lots and lots of course.

So why wouldn't you like these cookies?  Oh that's right you would.  You would like them a lot.  You would love them.  Correction - you WILL love them.

Because now of course you have to make them.  Why?  Er...because it's a cookie with peanut butter and bacon.  What part of that doesn't sound like the makings of baked treat perfection?  Do we need to ask the peanut butter and bacon questions again?  Didn't think so.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
Makes 16 cookies
Adapted from Gourmet & Joy the Baker

Print Recipe

1 cup natural peanut butter, room temperature (we used Smuckers Natural Chunky)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 slices of bacon

Cook bacon, cool and dice.  Our preferred baking method comes via the genius Ina Garten.  Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange bacon slices in a single layer - bake for 15 minutes.  Or of course, you can use your favorite skillet.

If you went skillet, preheat oven to 350 F.  If you went oven, lower temperature to 350 F.

In a mixer, blend peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Add in the egg and baking soda and continue to mix for another few minutes.  Add in the diced bacon and mix to incorporate.

Sprinkle some sugar on a plate, roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and drop into the sugar, rolling to coat.  Place cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Gently press down cookies using the tines of a fork.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly browned.  Cool cookies completely on a baking sheet.  Store at room temperature.