Posts Tagged With: Lemon

Plum Tart with Greek Yogurt

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Fall is in full swing and in this swanky apartment we’re eating…PLUMS !

I know, I know…plums ?  Aren’t you supposed to be making pumpkin-themed everything ?

Yes yes, plums !  Pumpkin is so passé* – everyone is devouring pumpkin goods.  Time to give those plums a little lovin’ !  Perhaps this post of positively pleasant “P” sounds presents a perfect place for plum pizzazz !

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In any case, it is true that plum season extends into early fall – October – and I am, for the first time, taking advantage of this fact.  I used to dislike plums.  Well, perhaps dislike isn’t the proper term.  Ignore may be a better one.  Plums were, in a word, strange. Why ?  Because they morph into prunes, that’s why.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat either fruit.  It was strange, therefore, when I walked into Trader Joe’s, saw a “basket” of plums looking for a home, felt spontaneous and snatched them up and POW a memory popped in my head:  for my birthday, while in France forever ago, my host dad, Pierre, made me a birthday dessert. Considering my host family and I were not particularly chummy, I was very touched by the gesture.  A beautiful, rustic plum tart sat in front of me, paired with a book about Dijon.  I can’t believe I’d buried that memory so deep, and it took a basket of unassuming plums to trigger it.

So then I had it.  The IDEA.  I would make a plum tart for my birthday…hence, here is my birthday “cake” thrown together with little time to spare before a 20s’-themed bash !  As you can tell, from the top picture, it was devoured in record time.  It’s a quick fix (if you buy your crust, and I did…I know, tsk tsk) that is pleasantly tart and lightly spiced.  This recipe uses a Greek yogurt “custard” topping, but I think, were I to remake it (and there are still a few dusty plums kicking around my cuisine…) I would skip the cream and make the tarte tout simplement avec des prunes.

I used the recipe from Mary Anna Esposita, the woman who taught me more about tomatoes via her great cooking show “Ciao Italia” than I think I needed to know as an 8 year-old.

Here’s the original recipe; the one noted below is with my adjustments.
Ingredients :
7 plums, cut into slices
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Sprinkle ginger
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup greek yogurt (plain)
3 tbsp additional sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F.  If you are making your own crust – you are fabulous and better than me this go around.  Prepare the crust and place it in a greased tart pan (or pie dish, or quiche pan – whatever you have will probably do).  I’d give the crust a little toast before placing the plums, but it is not required and the tart will not combust or fail to cook in time if you don’t.
Slice the plums into fairly thin sections – I made mine into little segments (like a fan, kind of) in order to make the tart look nice.  You are welcome to cut the plums in a less careful manner and throw them in the pan.  Taste will not be affected.  You can’t judge a book by its cover.  Right ?  Right.
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Arrange the plums in concentric circles (if desired) in the bottom of the pie pan.  I started in the “middle” and worked my way out.
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In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and the spices, stirring well to combine.
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Dust the plums with the sugar mixture – don’t be afraid to really bury them !  As the plums cook and release water, it will mix with the sugar combination to make this wonderful caramel-like substance at the bottom of the tart.  It’s delicious with ice cream.  Yummmmmm.  Top with the juice of the lemon – I just gave that citrus fruit a good squeeze directly overtop the plum and sugar combination.
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Place this in the oven until the plums are soft – about 10 minutes – then remove from the oven.  You are WELCOME to just eat this as your tart and not continue.  It looks so good, I have half a mind to try it like this with my remaining plums….
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In another bowl, whisk together the 3 tbsp of sugar, egg yolks, and yogurt.  Pour this mixture over the tart, being sure to work from the inside out and try to evenly distribute the custard.  Place the tart back into the oven and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the custard has set- you should be able to touch the top and pull a little of the custard out on your finger.  It’s sort of in a semi-solid state.
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Let the tart cool a little before serving to your hungry party guests !
Bon appétit ! 🙂
*I hold nothing against pumpkin goods…in fact, I’ve been cooking them a lot.  I just wanted to be DIFFERENT.
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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lemon Ginger Scones

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Well, it seems like time has gotten away from me.  Skittered,  Scattered. Slunk.
You know what hasn’t seemed to disappear, however ?
The heat.
The past, oh I don’t know, week or so has been hot and humid in my neck of the woods.  Every morning, walking to work (after the car and train ride, I might add), I am just covered in an unhappy film of dog day perfume: perspiration.  In such oppressive heat and humidity, nobody wants to cook.  In my house, we’ve been creating cold salads, grilling often, and even toasting breakfast outside in an effort to keep the oven dormant and cold.

Yes, I am using the heat as an excuse for my miserable updating skills.  As a result, in celebration of this lovely, cool evening, I’m adding a fabulous morning treat otherwise entitled “Lemon Ginger Scones.”  Around here, we don’t have a lot of entertainment…trees, birds, boats, testing pontoons in a pool…maybe not that last one, but the novelty of going to the General Store for breakfast never seems to wear off.  What to order ?  Scones.  Scones scones scones scones.  And a cappuccino (if you’re me; others prefer americanos).  In any case, it dawned on me that while I will always love the 2 mile trek down the road, making my own scones is also an option.

Therefore, when my mom showed up with a bag of candied ginger, we were off to the races.  These scones are aromatic and spicy with an almost-authentic texture thanks to the use of plain yogurt.  You cannot make these without real, candied ginger.  It will not taste the same.  Go on, take a risk and purchase this odd ingredient because its presence adds fabulous bursts of flavor in every bite of scone.  It also pairs fantastically with coffee, a fried egg, and perhaps some cheesy grits.

Ingredients :

2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest + the juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp lemon extract (if you are lemon fans)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen and chopped
4 1/2 oz candied ginger (about 2/3 cup), chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, sugar and barking powder.  Pulse on low to incorporate.  If you don’t have a food processing machine, it’s okay – just use a spoon to mix together these three ingredients.

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Add the lemon zest, butter, lemon juice and extract.  Pulse on and off, until the mixture is pale yellow and crumbly – you should be able to press it between your fingers and it will make a loose ball. If  you are without a mixer, just knead the butter in with your hands – the heat from your fingers will render the butter easier to work with, but be sure to begin with VERY COLD BUTTER.  If it warms up too much, it will change the texture of the scone and the consistency of the batter.

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Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger.  In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and the cream, stirring to make a smooth mixture.  Make a well in the ingredients; pour the dairy into the flour combo and stir with a spoon or your hands – whatever you prefer.  I like to get messy in the kitchen, so I’ll use my natural appendages to mix, but don’t hesitate to use a little tool here and there.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll out until it’s about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Cut into rounds – just as I did for the strawberry shortcakes, I used a glass to make nice circles to great effect.  Place into a greased baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart from each other.

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Brush the tops with cream, drizzle with some raw sugar if you so desire, and bake for about 14 minutes or until just beginning to brown.

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Devour with a hot cup of coffee and a beautiful summer morning.  Bon appétit !

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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lemon Meringue Tart (Tarte au citron meringuée)

Passing a recipe from one person to another is a practice that deserves some attention.  Like getting a letter, a recipe reminds you of something – a memory, a friend, a moment – and today I made a little dessert that my darling souris taught me to make.  Though I’ve made it since our last encounter, I think that handwritten recipe page complete with images of dancing lemons will always make me smile.  What’s more – I’ve not yet failed this recipe, which at first glance seems a wee bit complicated.

When in France (oh so many moons ago…), I NEVER ate lemon tarts (tarte au citron for those who have visited ze land of wine and cheese).  I didn’t like the taste or the texture, finding it to be far too bitter a choice when situated next to the oh so sweet and visually appealing tarte aux fraises…creme patissière…miam….but I digress.

When Pauline decided, in a spur of the moment frenzy of Sunday afternoon decisions, to prepare this delicious creation, I was skeptical…lemons….meringue….together ?!  It was, however, warm and creamy, just sweet enough to tingle the tastebuds without leaving them thick and mute.  I think it’s safe to say I fell in love with the shortbread crust, lemon curd, and delicate floufs (yes, floufs – what would YOU call them ?) of meringue topping.

And so it happened that I purchased lemons.  Eggs.  Butter.  A 10 pound bag of sugar (it was on sale…).   Oh.  And I brought a champion whisk from home with me to school – all in preparation for the serious whisking needed to make this treat.

Without further ado, I present to you Pauline’s “tarte au citron meringuée” or lemon meringue tart.

For the crust :

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
7 tbsp butter (almost a stick !)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine the flour and butter and sugar in a bowl.  Mix together either with a fork or with your hands (I start with a fork and move to hand kneading…) until crumbly.

Add the egg and continue to mix until very malleable – it ought to look like dough, very easy to pinch.

Press into the bottom of a tart pan (or a cake pan – I used a 9” round cake pan lined in tin foil) until evenly distributed.  Score with a fork to prevent air bubbles while cooking.

Place pan in oven and cook until golden brown – about 15 minutes.  You will probably smell the crust and know then that it is done cooking.  Let cool in pan.

For the curd :

Juice of 4 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
7 tbsp butter (almost a stick !)
2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
2 tbsp flour

Juice ALL OF THOSE LEMONS.

(I had a difficult time…but ended up with just enough juice.) In a pot, combine the lemon juice and half the sugar (1/4 cup) and whisk over medium heat.

Let this come to a rolling boil for a few minutes (this is to make sure the sugar is well-dissolved into the lemon juice).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, flour and sugar.  Make sure this is nice and light – don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into the situation !

Once the lemon juice is ready (and so is the egg yolk mixture) temper the yolks by pouring half the boiling sugar combination into the egg yolks and whisking fiercely.  Then, pour the NEW egg mix into the leftover lemon/sugar pan.  Whisk AGAIN and place back on the heat (reduce the heat though – down to low ought to be fine).

I know this is a lot of work, but whisk whisk whisk so that clumps of cooked egg yolk don’t form – it’s just not elegant – and you end up with a NICE, SMOOTH, VELVETY custard.  🙂  Once the curd has thickened (this will happen quickly), remove from heat and stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pour the finished product into the pie crust and use the back of a spoon to flatten.  Let glaze while you prepare the meringue topping.

For the meringue :

2 egg whites (leftover from the curd)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt or cream of tartar

Place the whites, salt, and/or cream of tartar in a clean bowl.  With a CLEAN whisk (any impurities will make it very difficult to whip the egg whites), beat those egg whites until they hold peaks all on their own – probably the “soft peaks” stage – I think they look like clouds.

Add the sugar and continue to whisk until the egg white mixture thickens – your arm will probably be quite exhausted by the end of this experience if you don’t use an electric mixer (like me) but I promise, it’s worth it in the end…

Set the oven to broil.  When it is the consistency of marshmallow fluff, pour it onto the lemon curd and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.

I like to make little peaks on top – these will broil nicely – and I just stick the back of the spoon on top of the meringue and lift up gently – you’ll get a lovely little flouf.

Place the tart into the oven and broil for about 3 minutes – be sure to watch the tart because it has a tendency to burn (!) and that wouldn’t be fun…or delicious.  Use your nose – it will smell like toasted marshmallow in the house when the tart is done.

Let cool and serve !

Bon appétit ! 🙂

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Key Lime Meringue Pie

(Yes yes, I know.  It’s traditionally “Lemon Meringue Pie,” there is no need to correct me.  Today, we embark on a little experimental journey : mixing lemon meringue and key lime pies TOGETHER to make an even more tart and delicious treat.)

A little backstory before diving into the challenge :  my mom always makes key lime pie in the summer…and ever since the beginning, I’ve disliked it.  (That’s right –  thumbs down).  In my household, key lime pie is made with a graham cracker crust, a tart but creamy filling, and a thick (EPAIS) layer of whipped cream on top.  This is a combination that my dad, sister, and mother adore, as I have often watched them devour with gusto this dessert.  In an effort not to sound TOO whiny (or picky), I would take a piece and simply scoop the whipped cream off, leaving it in a large, fluffy pile on the side of my plate.

As a result, when my mom announced this morning that we were having key lime pie for dessert…I was not thrilled. So we struck up a compromise that my dad (!) seemed keen on : NO WHIPPED CREAM.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the excessive chantilly…and so began the fusion process.

The good news :  IT WORKED AND WAS FANTASTIC.

The bad news :  There is no bad news, aside from the fact that those who were hoping for whipped cream are, in fact, going to be let down by this post.  My apologies in advance.

I took a traditional Key lime pie recipe and added more lime juice, more graham cracker, and topped it with the same  meringue cloud as goes on a lemon meringue pie – it’s quite simple to make and renders this treat healthier (less fat !) and lighter on the stomach.  The egg white cuts the tartness of the curd without overpowering (and muting…) your tastebuds with cream.  Simple, quick, fresh, and pretty, this dessert is excellent update on a typical treat.

For the crust :

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbles
5 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon (or a folk).

The graham cracker crumbles should absorb the butter and together make a combination that is crumbly but malleable.

Pour this mixture into a buttered pie pan and, using the spoon, press firmly until evenly coated.

Place this in the oven for about 10 minutes – you’ll just start to smell the crust before it’s ready to be removed.  Let cool.

For the pie :

3/4 cups key lime juice
3 egg yolks
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT EVAPORATED.  DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR LABELS, FOLKS)

This is probably the easiest recipe ever.  Put all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth.

It will look rather like pudding or custard.

Pour the “batter” into the prepared pie pan and swirl with a spoon to evenly distribute.  The filling will not rise (no leavening agent !) so fear not if you are close to overflowing.  We had the opposite problem…as you can see.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until set.  Many key lime pies don’t need to be cooked and are instead “refrigerator pies” but as we added egg yolks, the extra heat will allow those proteins to reform in a more solid position, making the pie more like a flan than a custard.  Trust me, it’s a good choice.  You should be able to touch the surface of the pie and have a little of the filling stick to your finger – nice and thick, but not totally solid.

Let cool slightly before covering again…with meringue.

For the meringue :

3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Little note : when at school, I don’t have an electric mixer, so I am quite used to whipping by hand.  Ergo, I whipped this meringue into a frenzy with my brute (ahem lacking) strength.  For those who don’t want to exercise while cooking, use not a whisk but a mix master (Kitchenaid or the like).  However, please know that it is entirely possible to do pretty much anything by hand.

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, followed by the egg whites.  You may also add cream of tartar (this stabilizes the egg white foam and helps you whip without fear of failure) but it is not necessary.  Whip until soft peaks foam – just beyond the foamy stage, this moment is where you can lift the whisk out of the bowl and it will just keep a shape.

Add the sugar and whip without mercy.  The mixture will change drastically, thickening and turning glossy.  When your meringue looks like marshmallow fluff or Cool Whip, you are all set.

Plop the meringue on top of the pie and smooth with a spatula (or a spoon, for that matter), swirling towards the center.  To make the little poofs (for lack of a better word…), press the meringue gently with the back of a spoon and then lift up quickly.  Repeat until desired topography is achieved.

Put the pie BACK in the oven and cook until the meringue is nicely browned – like a toasted marshmallow.  It doesn’t take long, so don’t leave the kitchen and watch Dr. Who because if you do so, the meringue will be in an unfortunate position…charred, I’d say.

In any case, we ate about 2/3 of the pie in one sitting…and there are only four of us…so it was quite fantastic (as I sit here devouring the final piece avec une vue de la mer et un sourire digne d’une personne fière de son travail…) 🙂

In any case, bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lemon Caper Chicken

In high school, I was lucky enough to have babysitting jobs because I had a younger sister.  The plan of attack was simple :  she made friends, I met her friends (and their parents), and they asked me (sometimes) to babysit because I was (naturally) the older and more mature sibling.  In reality, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hang out with my sisters’ friends, as they are all charming with charming younger siblings themselves.  Eventually, our families would just merge and become friends.  It is from such a friendship that this recipe surfaced.  While having a casual dinner over at one such family’s house, we experienced Lemon Caper Chicken.  It’s a really simple dish that doesn’t take long to make and it definitely looks fancy…and who doesn’t like looking fancy ?  The bite from the lemon and the white wine work well with the sourness (and surprise) of the capers.  This recipe will make enough to feed 4 people.

Ingredients :

2 tbsp olive oil
4 whole boneless chicken breasts, halved
1 cup of white wine (I used a Chablis but anything will work)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
A little flour (for dredging)
Salt
Pepper

OPTIONAL FIRST STEP : Pound the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap to flatter/tenderize.  Place the pieces of chicken into a bowl of flour that has been seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot (but not smoking!  We don’t want the fire alarm to go off…).  Add the chicken and cook for about 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Be sure to flip the chicken after about 5 minutes.  I always have to cut the chicken in half to make sure it’s no longer pink on the inside – chicken is tricky and you don’t want to risk having not entirely cooked the meat.  When done, remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a platter.  Cover to keep warm.

Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan and scrape the bottom to remove the brown bits – these will add great flavor to the dish.  When you add an acid to the pan, you are deglazing it – dissolving so to speak those bits of delicious protein that stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Bring this mixture to a boil and add the capers.  Let simmer for about 2 minutes before whisking in the butter, one piece at a time.  Cook over low heat for 1 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve !  This pairs well with rice, be it risotto or white rice, as a starch.  A piece of homemade bread is also welcome, given that the sauce is absolutely heavenly.

Bon appétit !

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Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I don’t think my sister nor I ever grew out of the idea of tea parties.  As a result, when I heard my sister was inviting a few girls over to watch Downton Abbey (a fantastic Masterpiece theatre series, if you haven’t watched it…well…you best get on that !), I offered to bake.  Together, Meg and I made some quick lemon poppyseed muffins to go along with the occasion.  We also dug out some old china teacups and saucers and had a time setting the table and pretending we, too, were members of the household depicted in the series – sipping tea, nibbling muffins, and making quiet but important conversation.  These muffins are a fantastic accompaniment to afternoon tea OR breakfast and the best part – they are quick and easy.  This recipe makes 12 regular-sized muffins.

Ingredients :

2 cups flour
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp ginger
8 tbsp butter, soft
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp vanilla
1 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp lemon extract (if you really like lemon, add this !)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line muffin tin with paper liners, as these are quite moist and may be difficult to remove without the liners.  Combine the flour, poppy seeds, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Mix well to combine.  In another bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.



Add the lemon zest, juice, vanilla, and lemon extracts.  Next, add the flour mixture and the yogurt, alternating additions of each.



Stir until just combined – overstirring could cake the muffins to turn tough.



Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 18-20 minutes.  You’ll know the muffins are done when you tough the top and it springs back from your touch.

Take them out of the tray and let cool on a rack…but feel free to nibble before they lose all their warmth !  Grab a teacup, put on the kettle, prepare a nice cup of earl grey and you’re good to go.  Bon appétit !

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Lemon cupcakes with raspberry filling

I think the cupcake craze has finally hit me.  I know, it’s a litttttle late for that, but I’ve made three batches of cupcakes in the past…two weeks (?) and I’m having far too much fun in the kitchen.  Flour.  Everywhere.

Or in this case…lemon zest.

Being a slightly competitive person…I’m staging a mini-war with the fantastic Baked and Wired of Washington, D.C. in an effort to reduce the pain my wallet feels every time I crumble and purchase a cupcake.  My current favorite is a lemon cupcake with a raspberry filling and a lemon buttercream frosting.  After a few edits (lighter frosting, spicier filling, and a more lemony cupcake), here’s my new and improved version:

For the cake :

1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
1 cup buttermilk (can be made with milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice OR distilled vinegar)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 muffin tins (24 cups total) with liners (or parchment paper).  In an electric mixer – or by hand – cream butter until smooth.  Add the sugar slowly until smooth, followed by the zest and lemon juice.  The batter will separate a bit – but when the flour is added, the it will stabilize.  Cream the mixture until light.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a bowl, mix the baking powder and the flour together.  Add the flour and the buttermilk at the same time, mixing until combined but not more to avoid a tough cake.  Pour into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch.

For the filling :

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground ginger

Combine all ingredients and boil until well blended and thickened – using a thermometer might be beneficial.  I boiled until the thread stage.  Chill.

For the frosting :

4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

Combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and zest together in a medium pan.  Stir to help the sugar dissolve and then boil until 238F or until the mixture thickens slightly and forms a thin, continuous stream when poured from a spoon.  It’s good to taste this to make sure it’s lemony enough (or sweet enough) for your tastes (but be careful, as boiling sugar is HOT).

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whip the eggs whites and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks.

Once the sugar syrup is ready, turn the mixer on high and pour the hot syrup over the meringues, being careful to add it in a thin, continuous stream.  The egg whites will be billowy and light – almost like a foam.  I added a few drops of yellow food dye to give it a light yellow tint.

Assembly :

Using your finger (or a spoon), make a little divot in the center of each cupcake.  This will be filled with the raspberry syrup.  There is no need to remove the centers – the cake is quite moist, so compacting it works just fine. Using a teaspoon, pour raspberry syrup into the crevice until filled.


Once this is complete, they are ready to be frosted.  I used a piping bag to frost mine, but it isn’t necessary.  Once can easily use a spatula, a spoon, or a knife to top off these delicious little cakes.  Once iced, I sprinkled a little lemon zest on top (But you don’t have to…it just looks pretty !).  And there you have it !  Watch out, Baked and wired !

When it’s cut in half, you can really see the filling – it’s just like jam…but better.  🙂 Bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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