Tag Archives: summer desserts

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

When I posted my Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries last year, I suggested a key lime pie variation. In the year that has followed, I haven’t been able to get that idea out of my head. So naturally, here we are.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

This is a summer dessert mash-up for the ages. We’re skipping the usual fresh fruit this time around, instead opting to top this pavlova with a sweet-tart key lime curd, whipped cream swirls, and a sprinkle of cinnamon-scented graham cracked crumbs! If this topping combo sounds rich, that’s because it is, but it also perfectly balances out the crisp edges and airy marshmallow center of this pavlova.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

My favorite thing about making pavlova is that you can (and should) do it all in advance. The pavlova itself can be made up to three days ahead, and the key lime curd can sit in your fridge for a couple of days. If you can trust yourself around the graham cracker crumbs (I cannot), you can store them in your pantry for a day or two. Really, all you have to do day-of is whip the cream and assemble the thing, which only takes a few minutes.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​
Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

Be warned though that as soon as your Key Lime Pie-vlova is assembled, it’s the beginning of the end. This is not a dessert that can wait on you—this is a dig in immediately and don’t expect leftovers situation. Make no mistake, you are at the mercy of the pavlova, not the other way around.

That said, if you must be beholden to a dessert, let it be this one.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​
Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}
makes one pavlova, about 8 servings

Pavlova:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Key Lime Curd:
2/3 cup key lime juice (fresh or bottled)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks, room temperature

Graham Cracker Crumb Topping:
4 sheets graham crackers
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Garnish (optional):
lime slices
fresh berries
chocolate shavings

Make the pavlova. Preheat oven to 250F. Draw an 8-inch circle on a sheet of parchment big enough for a rimmed sheet pan. Turn the parchment over (so the drawn circle side is facing down) and place on the pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a separate very small bowl, combine vanilla and vinegar. Set aside.

Add egg whites and salt to a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Starting at the lowest setting and gradually ramping up to medium-high, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until foamy (about 2-3 minutes). With the mixer running, add sugar-cornstarch mixture a tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Then add the vanilla-vinegar mixture. Turn the speed up to high and whip until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes).

Turn the mixture (now a meringue) out onto the prepared baking sheet, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it to the edges of the circle. Make it taller at the edges than the center so you have a logical place for the toppings.

Place pavlova in the oven and bake for 75 minutes (1:15) until puffed, glossy, and slightly cream-colored. Turn off the oven and wedge a wooden spoon in the door to keep it slightly ajar. Let the pavlova cool completely in the oven (a couple of hours or overnight).

If not using immediately, carefully remove the pavlova from the parchment and double wrap with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

While the pavlova is baking, make the Key Lime Curd. 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 key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press curd through the strainer. Transfer curd to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until you are assembling the pavlova, up to 2 days in advance.

Make the graham cracker crumb topping. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring very frequently, until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes).

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Load whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a tip.

Assemble the pavlova immediately before serving. If wrapped, gently remove and discard plastic wrap. Place pavlova on a serving plate. Spread the top of the pavlova with about 1 cup key lime curd. Pipe whipped cream over the top as desired. Finish with graham cracked crumbs and garnish with lime slices, fresh fruit or chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve immediately.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

By now, you all know I love a cookie cake. I mean, what’s not to love about a giant shareable cookie with a frosted edge?!

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

I’ve made all the classic flavors at this point: chocolate chip, double chocolate, red velvet, Funfetti. They are all wonderful, but sometimes I want a cookie cake that’s a little more…niche. Like one that tastes exactly like the signature banana pudding cookies from my favorite bakery in New York City.

As Shakespeare said, specificity is the soul of good baking. Or something like that.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

You may notice that there isn’t any boxed pudding mix in this banana pudding dessert. Instead, the dough contains the three primary ingredients in instant pudding mix: sugar, cornstarch, and powdered milk. When combined with the banana, vanilla, and white chocolate, they perfectly mimic the flavor of classic banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

This Banana Pudding Cookie Cake is a dreamy dessert year-round, but is somehow especially good in summer. I mean, think about it. Banana pudding is a classic summertime dessert, right? Well, take all that banana-vanilla loveliness, add some white chocolate chips, and bake it into a giant cookie. Finish it off with a vanilla buttercream border, then slice it up and prepare to be both shocked and delighted that it tastes *exactly* like the best cookies in NYC…which taste *exactly* like banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​
Banana Pudding Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
~1 1/2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips + more for topping

For decoration:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
white chocolate chips

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

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, non-fat dry milk powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, then fold in 1 cup white chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 28-30 minutes, or until the top is no longer jiggly & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Top with more white chocolate chips for aesthetics, if desired.

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 Vanilla Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

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

Vanilla Buttercream
makes enough for 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-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, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

How to pipe: Stand a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip in a tall cup and fold any bag overhang over the outside. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to “load” 1/3-1/2 of the buttercream into the bag. Unfold bag overhang and lift piping bag out the cup.

Press frosting toward the tip. Twist bag overhang closed and hold tight between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, letting the main portion of the bag be held by your palm and remaining fingers. Use your non-dominant hand to tap the bag a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles. Pipe a dab or two of frosting onto a surface or small plate, just to get the buttercream going in the right direction.

Pipe a buttercream border onto the cookie cake, refilling the bag if/when necessary.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

I’m on a bit of a freeze dried strawberry kick these days. While fresh are delicious and plentiful this time of year, they can be finicky in baking due to their high moisture content, so I tend to keep bags of freeze dried around no matter the season. Want a big burst of strawberry flavor in a cookie or cake or pastry without reformulating the recipe? Freeze dried strawberries to the rescue!

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

Now, we’re not actually baking today—just making a pan of Rice Krispies Treats—but freeze dried strawberries still give these sweets a huge punch of flavor. And that’s to say nothing of their berry pink color! Oh yes, these are about as strawberry as it gets.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats are a snap (…crackle…pop?) to put together. Their ingredients list is short and sweet, as is the amount of time you’ll need to make them. Like the classic recipe, these treats come together in a single pot on the stove in less than ten minutes.

Start by melting some butter with some crushed freeze dried strawberries and salt. Add some marshmallows and let them melt before folding in the Rice Krispies cereal and a cup of white chocolate chips. The white chocolate will mostly melt, leaving the treats with a creamy texture…and the occasional pocket of white chocolate nestled in all that strawberry crunch.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

The most time consuming portion of this whole operation is waiting for the treats to cool enough to slice. I used an 8” square pan for thicker treats, so cooling takes a bit longer than it would if you went for a 9×13” pan. Whatever your preference, I highly encourage you to decorate the tops of your treats with more freeze dried strawberries and white chocolate chips—pretty food is just more fun to eat, ya know?!

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats are perfect for picnics and cookouts, but quick and easy enough to whip up the minute a craving strikes. And, oh, the craving will strike.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​
Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 16 treats

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1.2 ounce bag freeze dried strawberries (~1 1/2 cups pieces), pulverized
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows (mini or regular)
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup white chocolate chips

For garnish (optional):
1/2 cup freeze dried strawberry pieces, whole
white chocolate chips

This recipe makes thick Rice Krispies treats. For thin treats, use a 9x13-inch pan.

Heavily butter an 8-or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for removal.

Place butter and pulverized freeze dried strawberries in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Place pot over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter is melted and strawberries have soaked much of it up. Add mini marshmallows and salt, and stir constantly until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Transfer cereal to prepared pan. Use greased implements or hands (be careful—the mixture is hot!) to press the mixture into an even layer. Immediately garnish by pressing in freeze dried strawberries and/or scattering on white chocolate chips. Let cool completely.

When ready to serve, run a thin knife along the edges of the pan for easy release. Use the parchment overhang to lift the treats onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice them into squares. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time, but not in an unpleasant way.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Like so many of my favorite recipes, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes came to be on a whim. There were no plans; I was just playing around with cornmeal leftover from making Blueberry Corn Muffins on a Wednesday morning when shortcake inspiration struck.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I set to work making a batch of my trusty Cornmeal Biscuits, which are somewhere between a buttermilk biscuit and cornbread. They’re tender and a touch crumbly, but still pretty sturdy—perfect for shortcakes. I added a little extra sugar and cut them larger than I normally would for maximum surface area.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I baked them up and let them cool, spending the lag time digging through my fridge for seasonal fruit. I sliced up a couple of perfect nectarines and tossed in some blueberries, then added a few tablespoons of sugar and let them macerate. I also whipped some cream.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Then I assembled the whole lot. The cooled biscuits were sliced into two thin disks and piled high with whipped cream and fruit, only to be quickly demolished with forks and fingers.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Oh my goodness, y’all, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes are so good. Sweet, but not too sweet. Fluffy, tender, just corny enough. Creamy, fruit-forward. Full-on late summer vibes. Not bad for Wednesday morning baking improv.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

2-3 ripe nectarines (or peaches or other stone fruit), thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 batch Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes (recipe below)

In a small-medium mixing bowl, toss together nectarines, berries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit (macerate) at room temperature for up to an hour.

When the biscuits are cool and the fruit is ready, make the whipped cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble shortcakes. Use a fork to gently split biscuits in half equatorially (it’s okay if they’re not perfect). Gently move the bottom half of a biscuit to a plate. Top with whipped cream and fruit. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Garnish with more whipped cream and berries, if desired. Serve immediately.
Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

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

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, 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 stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 3/4-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. Cool completely before using for shortcakes.

Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Cherry Almond Tart

Cherry Almond Tart

Of all the wonderful things about cherry season—namely, that there are cherries everywhere and in everything—the lone drawback is that it’s quick. Cherries arrive in the produce section fast and furious, and then suddenly two months have passed and you’re googling pumpkin recipes again. Where does the time go?

Cherry Almond Tart

I have spent every summer of this blog’s brief existence trying to fill it with recipes highlighting every major warm weather fruit group. There are many (so, so many) berry recipes and a shocking number of peach desserts considering that I don’t care much for cooked stone fruit, but I’m happy if I nail down one cherry treat per year. Lucky for all of us, this year’s Cherry Almond Tart is a notch above the rest.

The secret? Frangipane aka almond pastry cream. It’s easy to make—it’s just a blend of almond flour (or whole blanched almonds), sugar, eggs and a few other baking staples—and is spread into a thin layer between rough puff pastry dough and a bevy of pitted whole cherries. As it bakes, this thin blanket of almond cream puffs up and nearly envelops the cherries, and gets a touch dark on top.

Cherry Almond Tart

The results are outstanding. Every bite is full of juicy, collapsed cherries, flaky pastry and a soft, thick layer of frangipane. I gilded the lily with some confectioner’s sugar and sliced almonds, but it truly needs no adornment. But, you know, ice cream is never a bad idea.

Cherry Almond Tart

Heads up that I’m on vacation this week! I’ll be taking Friday off to spend time with my family, but I have an epic ice cream recipe coming next Wednesday. Have a great week, y’all.

Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart
makes one tart, about 8-10 servings

Rough Puff Pastry*:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European butter (I used Kerrygold)
1/4 cup water or milk of choice, very cold

Frangipane:
1 cup blanched almond flour or 4 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Cherries:
2 1/2 cups whole sweet cherries, stemmed & pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Garnish:
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Note: If you’d like to use frozen (thawed) puff pastry instead of Rough Puff Pastry, start the recipe at the paragraph beginning “Make the tart.”

Make the Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8x10" rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8x10" rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10x14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any excess overhang. Use your knife to score a rectangle on the dough, so that there is a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Dock the center rectangle of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Remove crust from the refrigerator. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread frangipane in a thin layer all over the docked rectangle. Evenly scatter the cherries over the top. Sprinkle with sugar, then dot with butter.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl, then use a fork to whisk them together. Use a pastry brush (or a clean finger) to brush egg wash over exposed crust.

Bake tart for 28-30 minutes, until puffed and golden all over. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Remove to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the tart, then sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve, garnished with sliced almonds, if desired.

Tart is best within 48 hours. Wrap leftovers and keep them in the refrigerator.
Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart
Cherry Almond Tart