Most of our friends here in Uruguay aren’t Uruguayan – immigrants are everywhere (don’t get me started on the term “expat”). Over time, we’ve learned some pretty obvious stuff: want to please a Brazilian? Bring some brigadeiro! Want to please an American? Bring lemon bars!
Sky and I went to visit some American friends who live in Pueblo Eden – I was going to make the ones I usually made, but as I had plenty of leftover coconut from the cocadas, I decided it was time to photograph the first lemon bar recipe I had ever made. Looking at the original post, I realized I must have baked that right after Patricia posted it: the recipe is from 2011, the year I moved here!
Back then, I replaced the lime for more lemon, but this time I decided to follow the recipe (well, not really, I’m always changing something). And it was great!
For a 9 x 13 inch pan, you’ll need:
65 g (2/3 cup) sweetened coconut flakes – I can never find that ingredient here, but it’s just as well: I think they’re too sweet! I used regular shredded coconut.
185 g (1 1/3 cups) flour
90 g (1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
127 g (½ cup + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into cubes – You can see why a kitchen scale is a worthy investment. It’s just so much easier to measure 127 g of butter than ½ cup + 1 Tbsp!
436 g (2 cups + 3 Tbsp) sugar – I used 350 g, but next time I’ll try with even less.
50 g (1/3 cup + ½ Tbsp) flour
zests of 2 lemons – I used the zests of 3 lemons.
zests of 1 lime – I used the zests of 3 limes, I was on a roll with that Microplane! 😀
120 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
120 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lime juice
As most bar recipes, start by preparing the pan: butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and cover it with aluminum foil, leaving a “handle” to help remove the bars from the pan. Butter the aluminum foil WELL, being careful not to tear it. This is also the perfect time to start pre-heating your oven.
Prepare the base: if you’re using coconut flakes, place them in the food processor and pulse to grind them some. Add all dry ingredients, pulse, add the butter and vanilla, and process until a dough forms. You can also do this by hand: whisk the dry ingredients, add the cold butter cubes and the vanilla, and use your fingertips to “crush” the butter into the dough.
Press the dough on the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it turns slightly golden on the sides.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: zest the lemons and limes, being careful not to cut into the white (and bitter) part. Juice them – I needed 5 limes to get 120 ml of juice, but that always varies!
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk well, and set aside.
When the base is slightly golden on the sides, remove it from the oven, pour in the filling, and carefully place it back in the oven. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before placing them in the fridge for at least 2 hours. As I was running late, I placed them in the freezer for 1 hour and it totally worked! 😛
So they look a bit prettier, dust them with confectioner’s sugar. Try your best not to eat them all at once, as Sky tried to! 😀
In our group of friends, we are creating a new tradition of themed parties – we had a Russian night and, the Saturday before the last, it was our turn to host a Mexican night. We decided to serve guacamole and chips for starters and a burrito bar for the main course, but I was not sure what to do for dessert. I didn’t want to bake anything too heavy, such as a tres leches cake, nor anything too boring, such as a flan. I decided on lemon bars.
While the bars were baking, I kept researching Mexican dessert recipes and came across a clip from a daytime Mexican TV show (so you can imagine it was a bit… trashy?). But they were teaching how to make this coconut treat that was very different from the Brazilian version I am used to, so I decided to give it a go!
I used a minimuffin tin because I wanted bite-sized treats. I tried one as soon as they came out of the oven and immediately decided to make a second batch, as it was delicious! This was a great idea: the cocadas vanished from the dessert table!
For 24 mini cocadas (in the video, they used a normal 12-cup muffin tin), you’ll need:
1 can (395 g) sweetened condensed milk
100 ml whole milk
1 Tbsp cinnamon – yeah, I know it sounds like a lot!
3 cups (300 g) desiccated shredded coconut (unsweetened)
This recipe is extremely easy. The hardest part is greasing the minimuffin tin! Mine claims to be non-stick, but I greased it anyway. This is also the right time to pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F.
In a small pan, boil the sweetened condensed milk with the whole milk and the cinnamon. Place the coconut into a big bowl. Pour the boiling milk mix over the coconut and mix well with a silicone spatula.
Divide the mixture evenly among the cups – if you are using a minimuffin tin, you can fill them up! Press the mix into the wells, just to flatten the surface a little bit, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown.
Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them and let them cool over a wire rack. Or eat them right away, life is too short for cooling times anyway! 😀
A few months ago, I was at the supermarket browsing the spice section when I noticed a new jar: “semillas de amapola”. I had to suppress a shriek: after seven years, I had finally found poppy seeds here! I bought it and came back home thinking about all the recipes I’d make with it, in that excitement of those who really like to cook.
Unsurprisingly, I arrived home, put away the jar and FORGOT about it. I completely forgot I had bought it, forgot about all the recipes I had pinned in the ten-minute drive from the store to my apartment… I simply forgot. Until last week, when I realized I was hungry for something sweet.
I opened the pantry, looking for some chocolate, and I saw the poppy seeds. I took that as a sign of the universe to procrastinate, I mean, to bake Martha’s muffins! 😀
For 12 muffins, you’ll need:
113 g butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs – I used 3 small ones, as that’s what I had
zests of four lemons
¼ cup lemon juice – I added 2 Tbsp, because why not?
¼ cup milk
3 Tbsp poppy seeds – I used only 2, as it looked like way too much when I was adding it to the batter
1 Tbsp sugar, for dusting – I used demerara sugar, because I swear the package was staring at me… 😀
Except for the panettone ones, muffins are usually a fuss-free recipe, which is great. Start by pre-heating the oven and placing the paper liners on a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter – I won’t judge you if you use the microwave!
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking poder. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, milk, lemon juice and zest, and the eggs. When the butter is cold, whisk that in!
Now comes the hardest part of the recipe: dig through that messy drawer and find your silicone spatula. Pour the liquids into the flour mix. Stir with the spatula just until you can’t see any white specks of flour – this will actually happen quite fast. This is not a cake, so don’t overmix it!
Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine. Divide the bater into the 12 cups and sprinkle the demerara sugar. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean – conveniently enough, 20 minutes is exactly the time you need to do the dishes and make some coffee to drink while eating the muffins!
Technically, you’re supposed to cool them over a wire rack, but we both know that is not going to happen! 😀
Freezer: When they are completely cool, place the muffins in a ziploc bag and freeze for up to three months.
For Easter, I decided to unleash my inner hipster and make a chocolate-FREE dessert! The strawberries at the supermarket looked inviting, so I decided to bake this cake that I had seen made by Paula from The Cookie Shop and Deb from Smitten Kitchen, all based on Martha Stewart’s recipe! 😀
This cake is everything you want from a strawberry cake. I hadn’t had such a good cake – and such a pretty one – in a long time! The best thing is that it’s not very hard; actually, it comes together reasonably quickly.
When the cake came out of the oven, Sky asked me: do we have cream? I opened the fridge and saw a small package of cream. I whipped it to serve with the cake, making our dessert even richer!
For a 10-inch cake, you’ll need:
85g (6 Tbsp) butter, softened
200g (1 and 1/2 cup) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) sugar, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle over the cake – I used regular sugar in the batter, and turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the cake
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
400 g strawberries, hulled and halved
Butter a 10-inch round pie plate and pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). It is such a quick process that I actually started pre-heating the oven before making the batter 😀
Start by sifting together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I must confess I never sift – I follow Chef John’s trick of whisking them thoroughly for 2 minutes. This gets rid of any lumps and saves me from having to wash the sieve! 😀
Using your stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. The recipes usually say something about “mix until the cream is pale,” but Uruguayan butter is pretty yellow, so that never really happens – it has never stopped me from baking anyway, though!
Add the egg and mix well. Then, add the milk and vanilla, mixing well. At this point, the mixture looked a bit curdled, which is normal for this kind of cake.
As usual, to avoid over-mixing the batter, at this stage I change to a hand whisk. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing just until you can’t see any flour specks.
Transfer the batter to the buttered pie plate. Place the strawberry halves over the dough, cut side down. Try to place them as close together as you can!
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado) over the strawberries and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean – the recipes said this would take about an hour, but in my oven it took only 45 minutes.
Let the cake cool over a wire rack and serve with whipped cream!
I hadn’t had gelatin for a LONG time! I mean, I didn’t really miss that overly sweet dessert with those bizarre artificial flavors. But when I started to think about what to make for Summer Tertulias, the idea of gelatin kept coming back to me. I decided to find a homemade version.
I found several recipes, among them Patricia’s tangerine and prosecco gelatin. I decided to try that one, subbing orange juice for the tangerine, to make a solid version of one of my favorite drinks!:D
The first time I tried, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t set, so I placed it in the freezer and ate frozen mimosas (No complains here, it was super tasty! :D)
But I’m stubborn, so I decided to try again, increasing the amount of gelatin and changing the way I added it on the recipe. It worked! I served with a spoonful of whipped cream and it was a hit!
For four servings, you’ll need:
200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
3 Tbsp water
100 ml sparkling wine – I used rosé, because that’s what I had in the fridge!
Optional: whipped cream, to serve (I didn’t add sugar to the cream, as orange juice is quite sweet!)
Making gelatin is pretty easy. Sure, not as easy as mixing the flavored package into warm water, but then again, the homemade version tastes much better! 😀
In a small pan, mix the orange juice and the sugar. Mix well and heat over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the powdered gelatin and water and let it hydrate for 10 minutes. After this, the mix will be pretty solid. Place this small bowl in a larger bowl with hot water – don’t put too much water: think “water bath,” but off the stove! Stir the gelatin mix until it turns liquid.
When the gelatin is liquid and clump-free, pour it in the pan with the orange juice. Add the sparkling wine, whisk well, and strain the mix.
Pour over four serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for about 3 hours, until they set. Serve with a tablespoon of whipped cream.
Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀
This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory
1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs
This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!
Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.
When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂
One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!
The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!
Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!
For 12 muffins, you’ll need:
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins
Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.
Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.
Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.
Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!
Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.
Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.
Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.
Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂
One of these days, Sky said he was craving chocolate pudding. Naturally, I went looking for a recipe. Smitten Kitchen’s sounded pretty easy, and I had all ingredients there, so it was a no-brainer.
The recipe was indeed easy – six ingredients! One pot!
I made it quickly, and decided to place it nice serving bowls. While I was dividing, I had a taste – it was DELICIOUS! Comfort food at its best!
For six servings, you’ll need:
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt – or, you know, a generous pinch
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 ounces (170 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used 70%
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Have I mentioned how easy this recipe is? This recipe is really easy! 😀
In a medium-sized pan, whisk the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the milk slowly, mixing well to avoid lumps. Place the pan over low heat. Stir occasionally with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides. If you feel lumps are forming, use a whisk – I didn’t have to.
After about 10 minutes, the mix will start to thicken – it will be hot, but not really boiling. Continue to stir until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon – I think the picture shows what I mean!
Still over low heat, add the chocolate and stir until it melts and the pudding thickens – this will take another 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and mix well.
Now you can be fancy and avoid all lumps by passing the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. I (obviously) didn’t bother.
Another thing you can do is to divide the mixture into individual serving bowls, but that is option. What is not optional is covering the pudding with a plastic wrap directly on it, to avoid the formation of the skin. In all fairness, even that is optional, some people like the skin! :-S
Refrigerate for about 3 hours. The original recipe says the pudding will last for three days in the fridge, but I was never able to test that! 🙂