Tag Archives: Fourth of July

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsRemember those Cornmeal Biscuits I made earlier this year? They’re the perfect solution for when you can’t decide between biscuits and cornbread—the absolute best of both worlds! They’re super-tender too, thanks to the addition of naturally gluten-free cornmeal. If you haven’t checked them out, go do so, and then click back over here to see what happens when biscuits meet cornbread meets pimento cheese!

Hint: it’s this 👇 Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsFor those of you wondering what the heck pimento cheese is, it’s a creamy spread made of shredded cheddar, mayonnaise, sweet pimento peppers, and freshly-cracked black pepper. It’s incredibly popular in the southern U.S.—you’ll see it at every baby shower, cookout and picnic. You can buy the stuff in tubs in the grocery stores down there, but it’s next to impossible to find here, so I make my own and eat copious amounts with celery. You know, for balance 😉Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsHere, I’ve taken the basic ingredients of that southern staple (minus the mayo) and folded them into a batch of cornmeal biscuit dough. The results are cheesy, spicy, sweet-pepper studded magic!Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsThese are the cheese biscuits of my summertime dreams, and soon, yours. And those of your family and friends too, permitting you take a batch to your Fourth of July festivities tomorrow. You can serve them plain or with butter…Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits…but maybe crisp up some bacon and grab some tomatoes and arugula because these happen to make the best BLT on the planet.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsCAN. NOT. BE. BEAT.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsOh, and these aren’t pictured, but if you dice your leftover biscuits and sauté them in butter and olive oil, you’ll get some insane croutons. I ate these on salads for five days after I took these photos and I still want more.

You should probably go ahead and make a double batch.Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsHappy Fourth of July, y’all! If you’re looking for cookout appropriate beverages, see here and here. For snacks, here and here. And for dessert…here, here, here, here, and here.

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits
makes about 14 biscuits

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2 4-ounce jars pimentos, well-drained and minced
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For serving:
butter
bacon, lettuce & tomato

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, black pepper, optional cayenne, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry blender (or two forks or very clean fingertips) to break it down until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in cheddar and pimentos, followed by buttermilk. Dough will be soft.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Make sure to cut directly down—do not twist. Place cut biscuits a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Chill dough/baking sheet if anything becomes too warm/sticky at anytime in this process.

Bake biscuits 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Let biscuits cool until you can handle them. Serve with butter, or make yourself a BLT, if desired.

Pimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Pimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal BiscuitsPimento Cheese Cornmeal Biscuits

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Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBack in November, I made this Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake for a friend’s birthday. I thought it was cute, so I posted a picture of it on my social media with a #comingsoon…and then promptly forgot* about it because Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, my birthday, and so on and so forth.

*For the record, I did post a single-serve version.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBut I remembered now. Seven months later than anticipated, but I remembered. I promise you, Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake is worth the wait.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeWe’re talking about a rich, thick chocolate cookie studded with colorful candy and finished off with a flourish of chocolate buttercream. What’s not to love?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeIt’s easy too—it’s basically just a slightly smaller batch of my Double Chocolate Cookie dough with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBake it up in a cake pan, let it cool, and pipe on a buttercream border. In my opinion, that last step is the thing that takes this recipe from “giant cookie” to “cookie cake.” Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with a giant cookie, am I right?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeSlice it up and share with people you love this weekend or for the Fourth of July (with holiday-appropriate M&Ms!) or pretty much any old time. Or, you know, follow my lead and completely forget about it for seven months and then wonder why you didn’t make it sooner.

(Don’t be like me.)Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup M&Ms candy

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until butter is melted. Mixture will be a bit grainy.

Let mixture cool a few minutes before transferring to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in flour, baking soda and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in M&Ms candy.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 24-27 minutes, or until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and M&Ms as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

A Simpler, Better White Cake

White CakeI owe you an apology. The white cake recipe I’ve been using, it’s…well, it’s a pain in the ass. There’s no subtler way to put it. I’m sorry.White CakeSure, that cake is delicious—it’s cake!—but it’s not delicious enough to require four bowls, ample sifting, a whisk, a spatula, a mixer and whipped egg whites. Few things are.White CakeAfter being asked to make a few Funfetti cakes earlier this year (and subsequently washing every mixing bowl I own and deep-cleaning sifted flour out of every crevice of my kitchen a few times), I realized the error of my overly-complicated ways and went back to the drawing board.

It should go without saying that it’s silly to rely on a recipe you dread making when you have the ability to make one that is simpler and yields better results.White CakeSimpler and better is exactly what you’ll find with this new, improved White Cake recipe. This rich, tender, fine-crumbed cake is a one-bowl endeavor, and while it does require a mixer, you don’t have to sift anything or whip egg whites. I’m calling it a huge win.White CakeThis cake comes together differently than the others you’ll find on this site. Instead of the usual creaming method (creaming butter and sugar before adding eggs, dry ingredients and milk), this recipe is made using the reverse creaming method, which might be my new favorite way to make cakes. Let me walk you through the process.White CakeStart by combining flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl—the only mixing bowl you’ll need for this recipe. Give those a good stir with a whisk or a low mixer before adding all your softened butter.

You read that correctly. Add all your softened butter directly to the dry ingredients.White CakeNext up, use your mixer to combine the two. This will take a few minutes and produce a rubbly, sandy-looking mixture. The purpose of doing this is to coat the flour with fat before adding the liquid ingredients. The butter creates a barrier that impedes gluten-development, producing a softer, more tender cake.White CakeWhite CakeWhite CakeAnd speaking of gluten-development, the last two steps are adding liquid ingredients (egg whites, extracts, and buttermilk), which are what will activate the gluten in the flour. Mix just until combined before dividing the batter into two pans and baking.White CakeOnce the cake layers are cool, you may fill and frost them however you like. I kept it simple this time around with a white buttercream (just my vanilla buttercream with less vanilla) and went for the naked cake look.White CakeOoooh. Ahhhhh.White CakeYou’ll love this White Cake for its buttery vanilla-almond flavor, fine crumb, and did I mention it only requires one bowl?????!!!!!🙌😍💪🍰🎉 White CakeIt’s great on its own, but is also a wonderful blank slate for all sorts of applications. Feeling like Funfetti? Add some sprinkles to the batter before baking. Embarking on your own wedding cake adventure? Layer it with Lazy Lemon Curd and finish it with a coat of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Looking for the perfect fireworks-watching treat for your Fourth of July party? Give this recipe the Red, White & Blueberry treatment.White CakeOr maybe get brave and wild and do all three, because this White Cake is just that simple and just that good.

White Cake
makes one 9-inch round layer cake

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

White Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
sprinkles and/or decorative sugar, if desired
Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together (I like to do this by running my mixer on its lowest speed for about a minute).

Add butter to dry ingredients. Run the mixer on low speed to mix in the butter until there are no large pieces and the texture is sort of rubbly. This will take a few minutes.

Add egg whites, vanilla, and optional almond extract to the bowl. Mix until combined. Running the mixer on medium, add the buttermilk in two installments and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake layers on the center rack for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let let layers cool in their pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the layer before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, vanilla, and optional almond extract. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Frost and layer cooled cakes as desired. Top with sprinkles and/or decorative sugar immediately after frosting, if desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.White CakeWhite Cake

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

Raspberry Rhubarb CrispI love making crisps. They’re every bit as good as pie, but easier and much (!) quicker to make, and can be served warm with vanilla ice cream, so the time between the moment the craving strikes and the moment you dive in spoon-first is mercifully brief.Raspberry Rhubarb CrispWhat I’m trying to say is that you need more crisps in your life. *I* need more crisps in *my* life. There’s only one in my archives—a pear, ginger & chocolate concoction that you should absolutely make in the fall—and that is atrocious. Just awful. Especially considering there are so many delicious berries and rhubarb (!!!) available right this second.Raspberry Rhubarb CrispRaspberry Rhubarb CrispRaspberry Rhubarb CrispRaspberry Rhubarb CrispBerries and rhubarb that can only be improved with hints of ginger and orange and clusters of buttery, brown sugary oat & walnut dough scattered over the top and baked until…well…crisp.Raspberry Rhubarb CrispSweet, tart, jammy, gorgeous, and seriously simple, this seasonal dessert can only be improved with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The way it melts into the spaces between the fruit and the crisp topping is just…Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp…well, I guess you’ll have to make the recipe and see for yourself.Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp
makes one 8-inch dish, about 6 servings

Filling:
2 cups diced fresh rhubarb (1/2-inch dice, about 4 stalks)
2 cups fresh raspberries (about 1.5 6-ounce containers)
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Topping:
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Serving:
vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine rhubarb and raspberries. Add orange zest, sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, and salt, and stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish.

Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, ground ginger, salt, and chopped raw walnuts. Stir together with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until everything is saturated and clumps form. Scatter topping onto raspberry-rhubarb filling.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days. Reheat before serving.Raspberry Rhubarb CrispRaspberry Rhubarb CrispRaspberry Rhubarb Crisp

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe Fourth of July is just a few days away, y’all! While you may be thinking about vacation or grilling or how to keep your dog safe during the fireworks, I am over here thinking about–what else–cake! Red, White & Blueberry Cake, to be specific. Yes, a layer cake that is loaded with strawberries, blueberries, and tons of whipped cream. It showcases some peak summer produce and looks pretty patriotic, too! This is my kind of Independence Day dessert.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe cake itself if a classic white cake. I used my Vanilla Layer Cake as a starting point, manipulating the recipe until I had a light, fluffy result. The most significant change is that there are no whole eggs in the recipe; if there were, the cake wouldn’t be white! Only egg whites are used here. They are whipped to the point where they hold stiff peaks before being folded into the batter. The air in the whipped egg whites, along with a hefty dose of baking powder and sifted dry ingredients, will keep the resulting cake light and airy.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeWhile the egg whites give the cake tons of structure, their complete lack of fat has the potential to dry it out. I did a few things to counteract this:

  • I reduced the flour. Egg whites provide tons of structure in baked goods, so I was confident that cutting a bit of the flour wouldn’t affect the cake’s ability to bake properly.
  • I used butter and oil. I wanted this cake to have a buttery flavor, but as butter is 15% water, I was concerned that the results could be dry. This recipe requires 3/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, like vegetable or canola oil. This small amount of oil keeps the cakes nice and moist.
  • I used a combination of regular milk and sour cream in place of buttermilk. Sour cream’s thick texture and fat content keep this cake super moist. Also, as it has been “soured,” when combined with milk, it mimics the tenderizing qualities of buttermilk.

But enough about the chemistry of cake batter. This white cake is crazy delicious–soft, buttery, and flavored with vanilla and almond extracts (you can leave the almond extract out if you have a tree nut allergy). It would be spectacular with a little vanilla buttercream, but that’s not the direction we’re going in today.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeInstead of frosting this cake with buttercream, we’re using Whipped Cream Frosting! It’s a lot like regular whipped cream, except that it won’t weep or slouch after an hour or two. Many recipes for Whipped Cream Frosting require gelatin, but I don’t care for the texture it produces. Instead, our whipped cream is stabilized with sour cream. This adjustment allows for the whipped cream to hold up for days! Just beat some heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, and then use a handheld whisk to incorporate the sour cream until you achieve stiff peaks. Don’t be tempted to add the sour cream all at once–this will deflate your whipped cream. Instead, add it by the spoonful. This sounds tedious, but it really doesn’t take long at all.

For those of you who do not care for the flavor of sour cream, know that I don’t either. Its flavor here is very subtle, especially when combined with the white cake and berries. If you really don’t wish to use it, you may substitute creme fraiche or cream cheese.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeTo assemble the cake, slice both baked layers equatorially so that you have four very thin layers. If the idea of slicing a cake layer in half intimidates you, just know that they don’t have to be perfect–mine certainly were not! Just do your best. Lay one cut-side up on a serving plate (or a cake round, if you are me and can’t fit a serving plate in your fridge). Top the layer with some sliced strawberries and a few tablespoons of blueberries before spreading whipped cream frosting over the top. It may seem illogical to put the fruit directly on the cake, but it allows the berries’ juices to soak into the cake instead of breaking down the whipped cream. This is just insurance that your leftovers won’t get gross in the refrigerator. Repeat the layering process two more times before placing your last thin layer cut-side down. Use the rest of the whipped cream to frost the cake. I went for the naked cake look, but you may do whatever you like. Make sure to decorate with more berries!

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Sliced 15 minutes after assembly.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Sliced after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake may be served immediately after assembly, but know that the whipped cream frosting may squish out the sides a bit. This doesn’t bother me one bit, but know that a couple hours in the refrigerator will help the cake stay more intact.

Look at that! Cake, berries, whipped cream, and a little patriotic flair. Add fireworks and you’re in for a great Fourth of July.Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
makes 1 9″ round layer cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Whipped Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream, cold
4-6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

For Assembly:
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 32-37 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream frosting. Combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat mixture until soft peaks form. Switch to use a hand whisk. Add sour cream by the spoonful, whipping until stiff peaks form.

Slice cake layers in half equatorially. Lay one cut-side up on a serving dish or cake round. Top with about 1/3 of the strawberry slices and 3-4 tablespoons blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls of whipped cream over the top and spread them out with an offset icing spatula. Repeat this process two more times. Place the last layer on the top cut-side down. Frost and decorate with berries as desired. Serve or refrigerate immediately.

Leftover cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake