Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime PieIn my short but very intense baking career, I’ve come to think that whoever coined “Easy as pie,” was making a very cruel joke.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pie takes time and energy and the patience to scrape up the layer of flour that’s adhered itself to your best rolling surface, and unless you make it all the time (those late-November pies are always the easiest ones, aren’t they?), it can seem like a culinary Mount Everest. It’s not—anyone can make a pie—but I understand why it can be perceived as intimidating. Pie is simple, straightforward stuff, but it definitely isn’t easy.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Except for this Black Bottom Key Lime Pie, that is. It’s very easy and guaranteed to impress. I mean, look at those delicious layers!

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieIf you want to make one of these magnificent pies for yourself, start by blitzing Oreos and butter together until they are sandy. Press the mixture into a pie plate to make a crust. Bake that for 8 minutes, just to set.Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime Pie

Warm some chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream together and stir to make a ganache. Carefully spread it onto the crust, and then give it a brief chill to set the layer. This magical puddle of ganache is the titular “Black Bottom.”

Black Bottom Key Lime PieBlack Bottom Key Lime PieWhisk together the key lime filling. This iconic pie filling is one of the easiest to make. Just whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, some egg yolks, some lime zest and key lime juice. I like to add 1/4 cup of sour cream, just to keep everything extra dreamy. If you’re a key lime pie purist, you can leave it out.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Pour the filling over the ganache layer and bake the pie for 20 minutes. It should be ever-so-slightly jiggly when it’s done. It’ll firm up as it cools.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Chill the pie well (nobody likes warm Key Lime Pie!) and then top it with some whipped cream. You can pipe this layer if you are so inclined. I am not, mostly because I would like to eat pie sooner rather than later.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Oh, y’all. This is the way to get your key lime fix. The tartness of the filling pairs beautifully and deliciously with the dark chocolate and the whipped cream, and the crunchy Oreo crust…well, it’ll keep you coming back for more.Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Make this pie this weekend, or next Wednesday, 3/14. It’s Pi(e) Day, after all ❤Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

25 whole Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Key Lime Pie Filling:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon lime zest (or key lime zest)
1/2 cup key lime juice

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
chocolate shavings (optional)
lime zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.

Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate (I find that a 1/4 cup measuring cup works wonders for this). Bake the crust for 8 minutes and then let it cool for 20 (or until you can handle the pie plate).

Make the ganache. Combine chopped chocolate and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until a smooth even ganache forms (about 45 seconds total). Pour it into the crust and use the back of a spoon to carefully spread it into an even layer on the bottom. Freeze crust and ganache while you prepare the key lime pie filling.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. Whisk in eggs, followed by lime zest and key lime juice. Remove pie plate from freezer and pour filling mixture over the ganache. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick or the tines of a fork. Bake pie 20 minutes, or until just barely jiggly. It will set as it cools.

Let pie cool on a rack before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream. Scatter with chocolate shavings and lime zest, if desired.

Serve immediately. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Black Bottom Key Lime Pie

Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit KolachesToday is Texas Independence Day! On March 2, 1836, Texas became independent from Mexico, briefly becoming the Republic of Texas before it became part of the United States in 1845. Growing up in the Lone Star State, I can’t recall ever acknowledging this holiday in any formal way, but when I realized that March 2nd fell on a “blog day,” I set out to bake up a Texan delicacy: kolaches.
Grapefruit KolachesIf you’ve ever driven up or down I-35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, you know the turn-off for West (the town, not the direction) means two things: a pit-stop and kolaches (“kohl-ah-cheh”). This small Czech enclave is one of the most popular food attractions in Texas. I’m not exactly sure how this came to be the state capitol of Czech pastry, but basically everyone who has ever stopped at the Czech Stop is grateful it exists. Kolaches are the ultimate in Texan road trip snacks.
Grapefruit KolachesFun fact: I happen to be of Czech descent (my mother’s maiden name is Fitzek), but my ancestors came to the U.S. by way of Chicago and didn’t bake, as far as I know. But back to the pastries…
Grapefruit KolachesIf you haven’t had a kolache, just imagine a puffy, pillowy-soft pastry filled with sweet fruit filling (or sweet cheese or savory sausage & jalapeño). Apricot, prune, and poppy seed are some of the most popular traditional flavors, but when I set out to make quality homemade kolaches, I wanted to go extra Texan. I set my focus on a sweet-tart filling made from Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits.
Grapefruit KolachesAs far as I’m concerned, kolaches are a great treat any time of day, but I think they’re especially good alongside a cup of coffee on a weekend morning. But who wants to get up way early and work with yeast dough for three hours on the weekend?!
Grapefruit Kolaches My solution is to make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge while I sleep. This cuts waaaaay down on the early morning time commitment. Plus, the dough is initially super soft, thanks to the additions of sour cream, whole milk, and melted butter. It’s much easier to manipulate after a long chill.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesJust punch it down in the morning…Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Kolaches
…roll it out and cut it into 2 1/2” circles. Brush them with melted butter.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesLet them rise for half an hour while you mix together the posypka (crumble topping) and add a little flour to the homemade grapefruit curd filling. This will help keep it from running out of the kolaches while baking.
Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit KolachesOnce 30 minutes are up, press a well into each piece of dough.
Grapefruit KolachesFill them with grapefruit filling…Grapefruit Kolaches
…and top them with the posypka.
Grapefruit KolachesBake the kolaches at 350F for 12-14 minutes, just until they’re barely starting to turn golden and smell like butter and grapefruit and nostalgia for your Texan childhood.

That last part may just be for me 🙂
Grapefruit KolachesGive the finished kolaches another brush of melted butter before digging in.
Grapefruit KolachesWhether or not you are familiar with these Czech pastries, you are in for a treat! Grapefruit Kolaches are super soft and buttery and the grapefruit filling has the perfect sweet-tart balance. One (or two) paired with a cup of coffee can make almost anyone happy to be awake.
Grapefruit KolachesAs if there were any doubt, I’m always happy to be Texan.Grapefruit Kolaches

Grapefruit Kolaches
makes about 22 pastries

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup grapefruit curd (recipe below)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Posypka (Crumble):
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

The night before you want to eat kolaches, makethe dough. Cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the lemon zest, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough may be challenging to manipulate—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

In the morning, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap. Into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut kolaches, rerolling as necessary. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Brush on the tops of cut kolache dough. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (or greased foil) and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together grapefruit curd and flour until combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Make the posypka (crumble). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbly.

Position oven racks near the center. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Remove plastic wrap from one baking sheet of dough. Flour the back of a tablespoon and press it into the center of one kolache to make a well. Immediately fill with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of grapefruit filling. Flour the tablespoon again and repeat process with all remaining kolaches on the baking pan. Top all kolaches with a big pinch of the posypka. Repeat process with remaining baking sheet.

Bake kolaches uncovered for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans front to back at the 6 Minute mark. They will be barely-golden when they are done. Brush bakes kolaches with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Let kolaches cool slightly on the pans. Serve warm.

Kolaches are best the day they are made, but may be refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving.

Grapefruit Curd
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, from about 2 large grapefruits
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest, from about 2 large grapefruits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 medium lemon
1 large egg + 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 24 small cubes

Pour grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 12-15 minutes). Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together grapefruit zest, sugar, warm grapefruit reduction, lemon juice, and eggs. Set bowl over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens slightly (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add butter 1-2 cubes at a time, whisking until melted. Continue until all butter is used. This should take 11-15 minutes total.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium mixing bowl. Push curd through sieve to remove zest. Transfer curd to a jar (or other container) and press a piece of plastic wrap to the top. Chill well.

Grapefruit KolachesGrapefruit Curd

Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade BarsI have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. Yes, it’s fun to see old pictures and moments from my college days, but there’s a dark side to it all. That terrible haircut I’ve blocked from memory? Here it is! Every bad fashion choice I’ve ever made? Displayed prominently on my iPhone screen! What appears to be a solid year of angsty statuses? Just…what?!

Pink Lemonade BarsLast week, I had daily reminders of last year’s vacation to Swans Island, Maine. I am currently sixteen days away from heading up there again and I am so. freaking. ready. Swiping through photos of my friends and me hiking, puzzling, and sunbathing has me going crazy waiting to get out of NYC. Don’t get me wrong–I love living here. I just need a break every once in a while.

The vast majority of our trip pictures from last summer are of the four of us collecting wildflowers and climbing over rocks and floating on inner tubes in the ocean, but there are also a few of my friend Liz and me baking in “our” rustic kitchen. We had a ball working together, and I’m so glad I documented it all on here. Our first effort was a Blue-Razz Pie made with foraged berries, but it’s the Lemon Bars that really have me feeling nostalgic for my favorite island off the coast of Maine. There’s just something about the combination of soft lemon filling and buttery shortbread crust that screams summer, am I right?!

Pink Lemonade BarsToday, I’m taking that classic recipe and combining it with another favorite–Pink Lemonade! These Pink Lemonade Bars are super lemony and delicious, and insanely easy 😊 The whole recipe requires just ten ingredients, and while the filling is just as soft and delicious as a classic lemon bar, it’s much less complicated. Sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks are the heavy lifters here, keeping everything sweet and giving the filling its structure.

Pink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade Bars get their color in two ways. The first is seedless raspberry purée, made from blitzing fresh raspberries in a blender or food processor and then pushing it through a sieve. I know that sounds tedious, but it takes all of five minutes. This will produce about 1/3 cup of purée, although you’ll only need to mix 1/4 cup into the filling.

Pink Lemonade Bars
Raspberry Purée only.
Pink Lemonade Bars
Raspberry Purée and Food Coloring.

You could certainly use only the raspberry purée to color the filling, but the pink may not be very vibrant. I wanted my bars to be a brighter pink, but no amount of raspberry purée by itself seemed to do the trick. Here, I’ve added a tiny amount of pink gel food coloring to achieve a berry color.

Bottom line: whether or not you choose to use food coloring, your bars will still be pink and lemony 😊

Pink Lemonade BarsThese bars bake up quickly, but must cool completely and be chilled before slicing–Pink Lemonade Bars are an excellent make-ahead dessert option. When you’re ready to serve, all you’ll need to do is slice them up and dust them with confectioner’s sugar. Your friends and family will love this twist on an old favorite.Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, 9-16 bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
red or pink food coloring, as desired (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Pour shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes, until it begins to set.

Make the filling. Place raspberries in a food processor or blender. Process until puréed. Push raspberry purée through a sieve to remove seeds. This should produce about 1/3 cup raspberry purée. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until homogeneous. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, followed by lemon juice and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of raspberry purée. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake 18-22 minutes, until the center of the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Chill for at least two hours or overnight. Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars.

Immediately before serving, place a cooling rack over wax paper. Place cut bars on rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops. Remove to a plate and serve immediately.

Leftover bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Add more confectioner’s sugar as necessary.

Pink Lemonade Bars

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesAre y’all as worn out as I am? I spent Memorial Day weekend in Texas with my family, my best friend from college is in town, and I am turning 32 on Monday!

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesThirty two. Thirty. Two. How am I possibly that old? I graduated from college ten years ago. I have been in New York for almost that long. I have a real job and responsibilities and a very busy life, but I sure don’t feel like a 32 year old. I still remember thinking that 23 was old. Oh, how times have changed.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie PopsiclesI don’t know about you, but as a bonafide adult, I don’t always have time to make the desserts that I want. Lately, I have been dreaming about Key Lime Pie. It’s remarkably easy to make, but as we all know, pie takes time. This week, I have no time. In fact, it feels like I have negative time. But after breakfast yesterday, I did find a quick half hour to make a batch of Key Lime Pie Popsicles. When got home from work last night, I coated one in graham cracker crumbs and ate it in bed (because I’m an adult and I can). That’s what living the dream looks like this week–eating dessert in bed.

Please don’t judge me too harshly.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie PopsiclesThese Key Lime Pie Popsicles are just as good as their namesake dessert and half the work! They have just six ingredients: key lime juice and zest, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, heavy cream, and graham cracker crumbs. The process is similar to making no-churn ice cream–mix together the juice, zest, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla, whip the cream, and fold everything together. Pour it all into popsicle moulds and freeze. A few hours later, release them from their moulds and coat them in graham cracker crumbs before serving. They really couldn’t be easier…

Key Lime Pie Popsicles…except that you can also layer the mixture into a freezer-safe container, swirl in some graham cracker crumbs, and have No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. I love a two-fer.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie Popsicles are a citrus-lover’s dream dessert! They have all the tart, tangy, creamy flavor of the classic pie, but with a frozen twist. Who needs a birthday cake when they have these popsicles? Not me!Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Key Lime Pie Popsicles
makes 10-12 popsicles

3/4-1 cup key lime juice (or regular lime juice), depending how much tartness you prefer
2 teaspoons key lime zest (or regular lime zest)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, for coating (about 8 whole graham crackers)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together key lime juice, key lime zest, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over-whip.

Use a silicone spatula to fold half the whipped cream into the key lime mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Divide mixture among popsicle moulds. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

When ready to eat, pour graham cracker crumbs into a shallow dish. Run popsicles (in their moulds) under warm water for a few seconds before releasing. Coat popsicles in graham crumbs, and enjoy!

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese SconesHello!

It’s been a crazy week around here. I’ve been preparing for a couple of catering gigs and the end of the month cake rush. In all the planning, this blog has been put on the back burner, but I’m here today with some spectacular Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Why are these little scones so great?

1. Well, first of all, they are full of Meyer lemon flavor. This seasonal fruit tastes like a combination of lemon and orange. Oh my word. So good. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but they are all over the place this time of year. I am planning to cook with them constantly before they disappear from shelves!

2. Cream cheese, y’all. Where my other scones are made with all butter, cream cheese steals the show here just like it does in my favorite pie dough. Its flavor in the finished scones is pretty mild, but the texture is just…incredible. These are the best scones I’ve ever made by a long shot. They’re crispy on the edges and insanely soft in the centers. I’m going to have a hard time making scones without cream cheese ever again.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

3. Another magic ingredient? Heavy cream. Plenty of bakers use heavy cream in their scones, but I almost always go for half-and-half. My old standby would definitely work here, but the extra fat in heavy cream helps the middles of these scones to be super tender. It definitely makes these a little heavier than your average scone, but the texture it brings is worth the extra calories.

4. The glaze. I’ll eat scones no matter how they’re adorned, but I am positively in love with this easy two ingredient glaze. The scones themselves are flavored with Meyer lemon zest, while the glaze is made with the juice. Just whisk it into some confectioner’s sugar and drizzle it all over the warm scones.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

I could write more, but I don’t think there’s a need. Run to the market this afternoon, pick up some Meyer lemons, and make some seriously good scones tomorrow morning. Enjoy your weekend!Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones
makes 8 scones 

zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, very cold, cut into pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3-4 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

Note: Scone ingredients and dough need to remain cold at all times in order to bake up tender and flaky. If anything becomes room temperature or sticky prior to baking, chill for at least 15 minutes before proceeding as written.

Place oven racks at the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and Meyer lemon zest. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut them into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Fold in heavy cream. The dough should clump when pinched together.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat into a 1-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with heavy cream. Bake on the bottom rack for 7 minutes. Move pan to the top rack and bake an additional 8 minutes. Let scones cool in the pan on a rack while you make the glaze.

Combine confectioner’s sugar and 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk them together until smooth. For a thinner glaze, add 1 tablespoon more juice. Drizzle glaze over scones. Glaze will set after about 20 minutes.

Scones are best served the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.