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2018-07-17T19:37:48.678Z
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Cherries are a wonderful ingredient to bake with when they’re in season, even though I admit that I sometimes have fewer fresh cherries on hand than I would like for baking, since I tend to snack on them when they’re in my kitchen. Fresh cherries are an excellent option for pies, muffins and other baked goods. When it comes to cookies, however, dried cherries are the way to go because you can bring in lots of cherry flavor without excess moisture that will compromise the texture of the cookies.

These Lemon Cherry Sugar Cookies are inspired by cherry pie and are a great twist on a more traditional sugar cookie. The dough is infused with lemon zest and generously studded with dried tart cherries. Tart cherries are the type that are often called for in baking pies, too. There are enough cherries that you should get at least one in every bite, but not so many that you can’t appreciate the chewy-on-the-inside and crisp-on-the-outside buttery sugar cookie dough that they’re packed in.

You’ll typically see dried cherries available both sweetened and unsweetened. Both can be used here. Unsweetened cherries are a bit more tart, so you’ll end up with a cookie that is slightly less sweet overall if you opt for those. I personally prefer to use sweetened cherries in this case because the cookie dough isn’t overly sweet and I find...


You can find some delicious items in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. Their orange chicken is their best seller year after year, but I tend to be drawn to the pastry section of the aisle. A few weeks ago, I enjoyed some brioche pastries, but decided to switch to something savory and put Trader Joe’s Ham & Cheese Flay Croissant Dough Squares to the test.

These pastries start out with squares of croissant dough that are topped with chopped, uncured ham and shredded swiss cheese. Each one is individually packaged – there are four in each box – so you can prepare them as needed and don’t need to wait for a crowd if you want to treat yourself. They can be baked from frozen, so all you need to do is preheat your oven and pop one inside on a baking sheet.

I love the casual look of these mini tarts, which could be served for breakfast, a snack or paired with a salad for lunch. While there was a little bit of variation from pastry to pastry, they tended to be generously topped with both cheese and ham. The recommended baking temperature was 350F and I found that they worked...


Daquiris are one of my go-to summer cocktails. I’m not talking about blended strawberry daiquiris (although those are good, too), either. I’m talking about the classic daiquiri cocktail that is made with lime, sugar and rum. This Daiquiri Tart is inspired by that classic cocktail, with a rum-spiked lime filling on top of a buttery shortbread crust.

The tart has two components: a crust and a filling. The crust is very easy to make, as it is a press-in crust. This means that you mix it up and dump the mixture into your tart pan, then press it into place with your fingertips. While traditional pastry crusts would still be delicious with this filling, this style of crust means that you don’t need to do very much advance planning before you bake it. You can mix up the crust while the oven preheats and you’re ready to go.

The filling is also prepared while the crust is baking, then poured into the still-hot crust. The hot crust technique is a favorite of mine (as regular readers will know) and works beautifully with dense shortbread crusts. There are only four ingredients in the filling: lime, rum, sugar and eggs. It’s almost like a boozy lime curd and it has a fantastic sweet-tart flavor that fans of key lime pie will love. Be sure to use fresh lime juice for the filling to...


Peach cobbler is a classic summertime dessert. It’s easy to make and a great way to showcase fresh, ripe peaches – even though I will freely admit to making cobblers with frozen peaches during the winter. Cobblers tend to be rustic and honey desserts, something that you make to share with family. Cobblers usually need to be spooned into a bowl for serving, but these Peach Cobbler Oatmeal Bars are a way to make fruit cobbler a little easier to share.

This recipe uses the same mixture for both the base of the bars and the streusel topping. The peaches are sandwiched between the two layers, along with a buttermilk cream that really gives the bars a great texture and plays up the sweetness of the peaches nicely. That creamy addition is a nod to the fact that peach cobblers are typically served with ice cream, and since these are designed to be a bit more portable, they’re a bit more difficult to top with ice cream when serving!

The oatmeal mixture is packed into the bottom of a rectangular baking dish for the bottom “crust,” which is partially baked before the peaches and cream filling are added. The filling is added while the crust is hot, as soon as it comes out of the oven. While the peaches could be tossed into the filling, I recommend simply laying them on...

Peaches and bourbon are two classic Southern ingredients that pair exceptionally well together. You’ll see them in everything from barbecue sauces to cocktails to desserts. The rich sweetness of fresh, ripe peaches is a good match for the oaky, vanilla flavor that is prominent in many bourbons, so any dish that has both flavors is bound to be complex, with a great depth of flavor. This Caramelized Bourbon Peach Ice Cream is no exception. It’s a delicious way to enjoy both of these ingredients and to make good use of ripe peaches when they are in season.

This ice cream starts with fresh peaches, which are cooked in brown sugar until they are tender and caramelized. During cooking, the peaches give off quite a bit of juice, which blends with the sugar and becomes concentrated. To this mixture, I added a generous measure of bourbon and a splash of vanilla extract. I let the mixture cool, then pureed it and combined it with milk and heavy cream to make the ice cream base. I also added another measure of bourbon at this point, to ensure that its flavor wasn’t lost behind the sweet peaches.

The finished ice cream was incredibly flavorful and creamy. Alcohol (in general, not just bourbon) helps to lower the freezing point of ice cream, meaning that this ice cream has a very scoopable-texture even after it has...

One of my pet peeves when ordering a blueberry muffin from a bakery is discovering that there aren’t all that many blueberries inside of it. I like it when blueberry muffins are bursting with sweet, fruity berries – and I want to have at least one in every bite. These Blueberry Almond Muffins are bursting with blueberries, all packed inside a delicious almond muffin that is just dense enough to hold them up without letting them sink to the bottom.

The key to successful blueberry muffins is having a good batter. This one incorporates ground almonds to give the batter a little extra substance, allowing it to support the berries. While it might be a bit denser than other batters, the muffins still feel very tender and light because there are so many berries packed in there, held together with just the right amount of batter.

The batter is flavored with almond and vanilla extracts to highlight the jammy berries, and you can add in a handful of chopped almonds if you prefer to bring a little crunch into the mix. Personally, I like them both ways, even though the batch pictured here does not include almonds. Another nice finishing touch is to add a few sliced almonds to the top of the muffins, along with a sprinkle of coarse sugar, just before baking.

You’re going to need a lot of blueberries for this recipe...

The 4th of July is a holiday that calls for the bold red, white and blue colors of the American Flag. It’s easy to find decorations in these colors if you’re having a backyard barbecue or pool party and want to create a festive atmosphere, but it is difficult to find food in these colors in foods. Fortunately, while a little bit of food coloring can help give a dessert a patriotic look easily, you can find these colors in fruits that celebrate the summer. A selection of fresh fruit desserts made with red strawberries, raspberries and cherries alongside desserts made with blueberries can capture the red, white and blue look of the holiday with no food coloring needed. The added bonus is that you will also be enjoying some of the best berries of the year when they are at the peak of their seasons!

A Mixed Berry and Mascarpone Tart is an easy to make tart the features a no-bake filling and is studded with rows of fresh fruit. You can use any fruit of your choice, but berries of all colors make the tart look absolutely stunning.

Strawberry Shortcakes are a common summer dessert, but they are not the only fruit that can make a great shortcake. Double Blueberry Shortcakes feature blueberry shortcakes and are filled with whipped cream and more fresh  berries.

Fruit cobblers are always a welcome dessert in the summer. A Peach...

Ice creams, frozen yogurts and sorbets are always good choices for dessert during hot summer weather. I particularly enjoy incorporating fresh summer fruits into my frozen treats, just as I enjoy using them in baked goods. I have a wide range of strawberry ice creams on the site, but this Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet is a simple, summery dessert that is made with lots of fresh strawberries and creamy, tangy buttermilk. It is the kind of easy recipe that becomes an instant favorite once you’ve made it.

The sorbet is made with fresh strawberries, sugar and buttermilk. These ingredients are blended together until smooth, then the mixture is poured into an ice cream maker to churn into sorbet. There is no cooking involved and the prep really does take just a few minutes. Since the buttermilk is cold and your strawberries are (likely) either cold or at room temperature, the base for the sorbet can go into the ice cream maker right away, without additional chilling time. That said, if you want to prepare it in advance, it can be stored in the refrigerator and churned the next day.

I admit that I was tempted to call this Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream, but the truth is that there is no cream in this recipe and the fat content simply isn’t high enough to lay claim to the name of ice cream. That being...

Coconut and lime is one of my favorite flavor combinations – and I’m not just saying that because I happen to be a big fan of tiki drinks, either. Coconut is rich and buttery, and bright, zesty lime offers the perfect contrast when combined with it in recipes, whether you’re mixing up cocktails or making a batch of these Coconut Lime Muffins. The muffins are packed with lots of coconut and are accented with just the right hint of lime, leaving feeling like you’ve just had a bite of vacation after you’ve eaten one.

This recipe uses one of my favorite methods, almost a one-bowl recipe. First, the dry ingredients are mixed together in a large bowl. Next the wet ingredients – including flavorings like vanilla and lime zest – are stirred in. Melted butter is mixed in last, tenderizing the batter as it brings all the ingredients together. I sometimes say that this is “almost” a one-bowl recipe because you’re probably going to need a second small bowl to melt the butter in the microwave (it can also be done in a saucepan on the stovetop). Regardless of whether you consider it to be two bowls or one, it’s quick and easy to put it all together.

You will need the zest of just one lime in these muffins. While 2 or 2 1/2 teaspoons of lime zest may not seem like...

Raspberries and cheesecake are a classic combination that you’ll find frequently on menus, even though raspberries come in the form of a coulis more often than they show up as whole berries. But when raspberries are in season, I prefer to use them as much as I can and these Raspberry Cheesecake Bars are one delicious way to do just that.

Raspberries are known for their sweet-tart flavor, which contrasts well with the rich tanginess of the cream cheese in a cheesecake. This recipe is no exception. Dense, creamy cheesecake is studded with whole fresh raspberries that are folded into the batter just before baking. The berries hold their shape well in the oven, giving the bars a kind of polka dot appearance, lending their sweet-tart flavor to every single bite. The bars look great and they taste even better.

I will admit that I bake cheesecake bars much more frequently than I bake whole cheesecakes and that is because the bars are so much easier to make. For this recipe, the shortbread crust takes only a few minutes to mix together and it is pressed into a rectangular baking dish. While the crust bakes, you can prepare the cheesecake layer, which is poured onto the shortbread base while it is still hot from par-baking.

This method produces bars that are light and creamy, with a wonderfully buttery base – and you’ll...

Thin Mints are the best selling Girl Scout cookies by quite a margin and many fans stock their freezers full during cookie season at the beginning of each year. When they’re not available from neighborhood scouts, I like to make my own Homemade Thin Mints (regular or Gluten Free), but Trader Joe’s released a new cookie into their lineup that makes things even easier. The new Trader Joe’s Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Coins are bite sized and packed with the same kind of chocolate and mint flavor combination you expect from the original Thin Mints.

The cookies are slightly larger than a quarter, making each one perfectly bite-sized. Each one has a crisp and crumbly chocolate wafer at the center and is enrobed in a generous coating of semisweet chocolate. They have just the right balance between the flavors of chocolate and mint, and really capture the essence of a classic Thin Mint. They’re delicious and, thanks to their small size, they’re easy to eat by the handful.

Unlike the cookies that inspired them, these are enrobed in real chocolate that isn’t stabilized with additional vegetable fats. This gives the cookies a better mouthfeel and more chocolate flavor! It also means that the real...


Fruit desserts are always front-and-center on my dessert menu during the summer. There are so many choices, from berries to stone fruits, that the options for easy and elegant desserts are almost endless. This Fresh Apricot Clafoutis really showcases sweet summer apricots when they are at their peak by combining them with a classic French custard base.

You’ll need a couple of handfuls of fresh apricots for this recipe. The exact number you need will vary a bit, depending on the size of the fruits that you choose to work with, but 7 or 8 should be plenty. It is better to have an extra apricot available than to come up short when assembling the dish! The apricots should be sliced in half and have their pits removed, but you can leave the skins on. While apricot skins are slightly fuzzy, they’re also quite thin, so they don’t take away from the texture of the finished dish (and I quite like the slightly rustic look they give, particularly if you find a few with a pinkish hue to them).

The apricots should be placed cut-side-up and surrounded with a vanilla custard mixture. The custard is made with eggs, milk, sugar and flour. The flour gives this dish some structure and makes it easy to slice and serve. Still, the dish is very custardy and has a classic custard flavor, with a hint of...


Lemon curd is a delightful dessert sauce that I make on a regular basis. While I consider it to be a dessert sauce because of how well it pairs with desserts, it also makes a regular appearance at my breakfast table, where I serve it with biscuits, scones and other breakfast goodies. Homemade lemon curd is easy to make, but did you know it can be made even more easily in the microwave?

When I first learned about this technique, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. This recipe is a slightly scaled up version of the recipe that I have been using to make lemon curd for years. It works just as well in the microwave as on the stovetop, surprisingly! The microwave trick means that you can shave several minutes off your cooking time and have fewer bowls to clean when you’re done.

While most custards are made with milk and eggs, lemon curd is a custard that is made with eggs and lemon juice – and plenty of sugar to counter that tart juice, too. Like other types of custards, lemon juice is typically cooked on the stovetop and hot liquid is drizzled carefully into the eggs to temper them, thus creating a sauce with a very smooth consistency. Due to the relatively small amount of liquid in the curd, along with the relatively high amount...

In my kitchen, banana bread is the kind of baked good that you can never go wrong with. I bake up hearty, generously spiced loaves in the winter and change things up with all kinds of mix-ins the rest of the year. I almost always have bananas available (and keep a couple of overripe ones in my freezer), so it’s a mainstay in my baking routine. This Citrus Banana Bread is a great option for a spring or summer loaf for banana bread fans. The dense, tender bread not only includes plenty of banana, but lemon, orange and vanilla to brighten things up.

This is an easy to put together loaf that starts with a generous amount of mashed banana. When it comes to the bananas, you want to work with fruit that is very, very ripe and has a well-speckled peel. You can puree it completely in the food processor or simply mash it as well as you can with a fork -a technique which leads to a bread that has a few more pronounced bits of banana – and both are equally delicious. To the banana, I added about a tablespoon each of lemon and orange zest. The zest contains all the essential oils of the citrus, so you get a lot of flavor without having to add in any juice.

While I used lemon and orange here, you could actually...

Sheet cakes are wonderful because they can serve a crowd much more easily and efficiently than any other shape of cake. Most home sheet cakes are rectangular – typically 9×13-inches or so – and the size of a sheet cake can make it difficult to handle when it comes time to serve your dessert. Unlike smaller cakes, which are easy to turn out of the pans that they are baked in, sheet cakes are not always sturdy enough to handle being moved around a lot.

As a result, most of the time that we bake sheet cakes at home, we serve the directly from the pan that they are baked in. And while it is easy to carry a pan to the table, it isn’t always easy to get pieces out neatly. Fortunately, these tips will help you get both individual slices and whole sheet cakes out of the pan without too much fuss.

How to Cut A Sheet Cake in the Pan

When it comes time to serve your sheet cake from the pan, you’ll need a sharp knife and a small spatula. Lightly score the cake into the slices that you intend to cut (4×6, for instance), then cut the cake along those lines. Cutting the whole cake at once, wiping excess frosting off the knife as you go, tends to result in more even slices. Starting with a...


Baking with spirits is a lot of fun. Like vanilla extract, much of the alcohol burns off during baking, leaving you with a variety of delicious flavors in your baked goods. This is especially true of darker, aged spirits like whiskey and rum, where you get lots of potent flavors that can include vanilla and caramel. This Chocolate Rum Sheet Cake offers a grown-up twist on a very classic party cake, adding flavorful rum to a rich chocolate base for a cake that is indulgent, satisfying and big enough to serve a crowd.

The cake is easy to make and, while not quite as fast as a box of cake mix, it doesn’t take long to put together. The chocolate in this cake comes in the form of dark chocolate, which is melted in with butter and stirred into the batter. The dark chocolate brings plenty of chocolate flavor to the cake, but not so much chocolate that it overpowers the flavor of the rum. Both the dark chocolate and melted butter help to create a cake with a dense, soft crumb that is delightful to slice and serve.

While there isn’t a crazy amount of rum in this cake, you’re still going to taste it in each bite. I recommend using a dark rum in the recipe below – sometime like Meyer’s Dark Rum works well – because the darker...

A cannele is a classic French pastry that is completely unique in both its flavor and texture. Sometimes referred to as a handheld creme brulee, they have a crisp and darkly caramelized exterior, yet have a surprisingly dense and custardy interior. Canneles are typically flavored with vanilla and rum, both of which are a good match for a custardy dessert. These Cinnamon Cannelés do include vanilla, but cinnamon is the primary flavoring, adding a delicious aroma and warm spice to this classic French favorite.

The recipe is very straight forward and it should only take you a few minutes to whip it up, so there is very little hands-on time with this recipe. The batter for canneles isn’t difficult to make, however it does need to be prepared well in advance and rested for at least 24 hours – and up to 48 hours, if you are running a bit late! – before baking to ensure that the pastries have the proper texture when baked.

At first glance, you’ll notice that there is more vanilla than cinnamon. The cinnamon – especially if yours is relatively fresh (toss old spices and replace them with fresh for best results – is so aromatic that you simply don’t need quite as much. There is a generous splash...

I often include strawberries at my breakfast table when they are in season. Sliced berries make a great addition to cereal, yogurt and oatmeal, as well as a tasty topping for waffles and pancakes. These Strawberry Scones are just one more way you can enjoy in-season strawberries at breakfast or brunch. The buttery scones are packed with fresh strawberries – and they’re easy enough to make you can whip up a batch in just a few minutes.

As with most scone recipes, this one starts by cutting butter into small pieces, creating a flaky dough. You can do this by hand, in the food processor or with a pastry blender. While I’m usually a huge fan of the food processor, in this case it is typically faster and easier to simply do it by hand. Making scones isn’t as tricky as making a pie crust, so jump right in – even if you haven’t tried making scones at home before.

There are quite a lot of strawberries in these scones, which can make the dough a little bit tricky to knead and shape. I dice them into 1/4-inch pieces (or slightly larger) to ensure a good distribution in the scones. Don’t worry if some of the berries get slightly squished or release a little juice as you shape the scones. That being said, you can keep them...

Custard is a cooked mixture of eggs and milk that can be made sweet or savory and used in a wide variety of culinary preparations. Custards can be cooked on the stovetop to make pudding or a vanilla ice cream base. They can also be baked in the oven to create creme brulee or a variety of different pies. Sweet custards tend to have sugar, vanilla and other flavorings added to them, while savory custards usually include herbs, spices and vegetables/meat. Ideally, custard should be silky smooth even when it includes extra ingredients, such as veggies in the case of a quiche or fruit in the case of a clafoutis.

The best way to ensure that your custard is smooth is to strain it. Straining helps to remove any bits of curdled or cooked egg from the custard, making it a key step in custard-making.

How to Strain Custard

Most of the time, a recipe will direct you to strain your custard at the appropriate time. If it doesn’t, you should strain it anyway. A stovetop-cooked custard should be strained after it has thickened by pouring it through a strainer. The strainer should be fine, but your average kitchen strainer/sieve will get the job done. The heat from cooking custard on the stovetop can cause bits of egg to cook and become small lumps in the mixture....

Breakfast foods are usually my favorite foods. This is not only because I love eggs, bacon, potatoes and other breakfast staples, but because I love breakfast pastries, from coffee cake to croissants. Morning Buns are a particular favorite of mine and I recently started making them at home. The buns start with a batch of my Overnight Croissant Dough. The dough is quite a bit easier to make than traditional croissant dough and is a great way to dip your toe into making laminated doughs at home. Croissant dough, unlike puff pastry dough, has yeast in it to give the pastry extra rise. The end result is a pastry that is both light and flaky, and that both what we want to see in a croissant and in a morning bun.

There are two things that differentiate morning buns from croissants. The first is the shape, as morning buns are rolled into a spiral and placed in a muffin pan to bake to produce a pastry with a round shape. The second is that morning buns are generously coated with sugar, which gives them a delicious caramel sweetness and produces an extra-crisp exterior on the pastries. For those of you who might not have had a morning bun, they are not as sweet as cinnamon buns (and are lighter in texture), but the idea is similar.

Once your croissant dough...