Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lemon Yogurt Cake

This cake may be my new favorite thing. The delicate crumb is moist from the yogurt, and the lemon flavor light and fragrant. The cake itself is a bright sunny yellow, with a shiny glisten from the marmalade glaze. I can eat the whole loaf by myself, and with only 1/3 cup of oil, I don't feel so guilty when the plate is empty. If you're not a glutton like me, the cake will store nicely for a few days tightly covered. The yogurt and oil will keep it moist.

Feel free to experiment with this recipe. I'm sure it'll taste delicious flavored with orange or just plain vanilla.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Make 1 loaf

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat)
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup citrus marmalade
1 tsp water

For cake:
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine yogurt, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. Gradually add in dry ingredients. Fold in vegetable oil. Pour into a greased 8.5x4.5x2.5 loaf pan, and place in a 350 degrees preheated oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rack and let cool.

For glaze:
While the cake is cooling, heat up the marmalade with the water. Brush the top of the cake with glaze.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Apple Frangipane Tart

Beautiful, elegant, delicious. This tart consists of a tender, buttery crust, smooth almond filling, and sweet apples. It's simple enough for a casual dessert, but also pretty enough for an elegant dinner.

Apple Frangipane Tart
1 10-inch tart

Sweet butter crust:
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp ice water, or as needed

1/2 cup almond paste
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp almond extract

3-4 medium sweet apples - peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup apricot jelly, heated until thinned

For pastry crust:
Cream together butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Sift in flour and salt, and stir to combine. Add in enough cold water to bring dough together, being careful to not overmix. Pat dough into a round disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Lightly flour the board, and roll the chilled dough into approximately a 12 inch circle. Lay the tart dough into a buttered 10-inch fluted tart pan (with a removable bottom), and press into the bottom and up the sides. Prick all over with a fork and return to the fridge to chill.

For frangipane:
Combine butter and almond paste until smooth. Add in almond extract and egg. Stir in flour until combined.

To assemble:
Pour frangipane evenly into the tart shell. Arrange apple slices on top of the frangipane (be creative ^.^just make sure that they overlap because apples will shrink when baked). Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for 20 more minutes. The frangipane should be puffed and the apples golden. Remove from oven and brush with heated apricot jelly.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Toffee Almond Bars

Beach picnic: turkey and swiss cheese sandwich, washed down with cinnamony horchata, and finished off with gooey toffee squares.

This recipe is from Alpineberry, and gave me a way to use up half a box of cake mix. The original recipe called for toffee bits, but I found that Almond Rocas, which have the ultimate combo of chocolate, almond, and toffee, work very well.

Toffee Almond Bars

1 box yellow or white cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg

1 can condensed milk (16 oz)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup toffee bits or chopped almond rocas
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Mix cake mix, butter, and egg until combined. Pressed into a 9x13" pan. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 7 minutes. The crust wouldn't look done.

In the mean time, combine egg and condensed milk. Stir in toffee bits and chopped almonds. Pour filling on baked crust. Bake for 24-30 minutes until top is browned. Let bars to cool before cutting; this allows the filling to set.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Red Bean Sesame Puffs (because puffs sound better than balls)

My sister's class is putting on a "We Come From Everywhere" play - singing about "melting pots" and dressing in ethnic costumes. The teacher also asked families to bring desserts unique to the children's country of origin for the reception afterwards. Now, the Chinese don't eat a lot of sweets, but when we do, there's usually the presence of a lot of oil, sugar, and the occasional lard. Emeril would probably be waving his hands around wildly, giddily shouting "PORK FAT RULES!"

This recipe is for sesame puffs, made with glutinous rice flour and filled with a red bean paste, coated with white sesame seeds and fried until golden brown and, well, puffy. It's a traditional dessert served at dim sum restaurants, usually snipped in half with scissors to reveal a dark red center surrounded by a ring of white. The crispy outside provides a contrast against the chewy rice flour layer and creamy red bean center. There's no sweetener in the dough, so the sesame puffs are only as sweet as the filling. I used a packaged red bean paste because it's convenient and tastes pretty good (about 1/2 cup for this recipe). It is also quite a bit of work to make a really smooth paste at home due to the need to remove the peels from the red beans. However, a filling of crushed red beans would taste good too.

Red Bean Filled Sesame Puffs
Makes 25 puffs


1 package glutinous rice flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups cold water

Place rice flour in a large bowl. Mix in 2 cups water to start, and gradually add in more until the right consistency is reached. The dough should hold together when pinched and not be sticky or liquidy. It's a fairly firm dough, and should feel a bit like clay.
1 cup dried red beans
Sugar to taste

Wash red beans, discarding any that are damaged. Place beans in a stockpot and cover with cold water, allowing them to soak overnight (this shortens the cooking process). The next day, bring beans and water to boil and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours until beans are tender, adding more water as necessary. Drain the beans and puree them in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Pass the puree through a sieve to remove the skins and add sugar to desired sweetness.

To make crushed red beans, cook beans in the same method and smash them with a large spoon. Add sugar for sweetness. I like to keep the skins in the smashed red beans.


3/4 cup white sesame seeds

Clear oil to fry

To Assemble:

Pinch off a piece of dough slightly larger than a golf ball and roll into a ball. Make a depression in the center, and form the dough into a bowl. Fill with 1 - 1 1/2 tsp of filling, being sure to not overfill. Pull the lips of the bowl together, enclosing the filling. Roll to form a uniform ball. Place filled balls on a floured plate or board and cover with a towel to prevent drying out.

To Fry:
Right before frying, brush the balls all over with water and roll in white sesame seed, pressing the seeds in. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry 4-5 dough balls at a time, rotating them to ensure even cooking. The balls are ready when they float to the top and the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5-6 minutes. You should cut one open to make sure the dough is cooked through.

Drain the cooked puffs on paper towel. Serve while warm.