December 21, 2011

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies

These cookies have become our family favorites, especially during the holidays. The combination of the silver dragées, the sweet Meyer lemon frosting and the very slight hint of ricotta is craveable. They're pretty easy to make and even more fun to eat, especially if you make the mini's (my favorite). The recipe below yields 4 dozen regular or 7-8 dozen mini's. Enjoy!

1. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too wet. The best dough is still slightly wet but not so wet that it sticks to your finger when forming the cookies.
2. Dragées may be hard to find. These are those small edible silver balls that you used to be able to buy from any supermarket. Because they contain trace amounts of metal, I think many stores have stopped selling them, however most specialty cooking stores still sell them.
3. If you don't have Meyer lemons, it's ok to use the more commo Eureka lemons, found in most supermarkets. However, if you can find Meyer lemons, these are preferred as they are more aromatic and sweeter. For a very informative blogpost about Meyer lemons, click here.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
15 oz whole-milk Ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon lemon extract
3 tablespoons freshly grated Meyer lemon zest
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Silver Dragées

1.Preheat oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment papers
2. Combine butter and sugar in a bowl; cream together until light and fluffy

3. Add eggs, Ricotta, lemon extract, zest and juice; blend well

4. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; blend to combine

5. Add remaining flour in two parts, blending to combine between each, until a dough forms

6. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart (rounded teaspoon for mini’s) on baking sheets

7. Bake until cookie edges are very light golden, about 12-15 minutes (10 for mini’s)
8. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to wire cooling rack

9. While cookies cool, prepare glaze by creaming together butter and sugar

10. Continue to mix, gradually adding juice until desired consistency

11. Decorate cooled cookies, adding dragées before icing sets

December 11, 2011

Gourmet Cake Bites

For my recent birthday, my daughter gave me the book, "101 Gourmet Cake Bites" by Wendy Paul. Never having heard of a cake bite, I tried two of the recipes for her birthday. I'm wondering now if that's why she gave me the book! Cake bites, for those of you like me who had never tried them before, are simply a rounded ball of cake-like texture mixed with various flavorings, covered in melted chocolate. These did not disappoint and reminded me very much of the Hostess Ding Dongs I used to eat as a kid, minus the cream filling. The recipe below comes from this book and is the "Cookies and Cream" version. I made them small enough to yield 4 dozen. You may want to make more as they go very quickly! Enjoy!

1. The chocolate buttercream recipe shown below makes twice as much as you need. Use the extra for your next batch or top an actual cake with it. Or, eat it right out of the bowl like I did.
2. I have found that buying already tempered chocolate is well worth the price. Buying non-tempered chocolate and trying to temper it yourself takes skill and time that sometimes you just don't have. Basically, tempered chocolate hardens quickly with a nice smooth sheen. Non tempered chocolate won't harden without help from a refrigerator and often leaves a dull sheen which is not as appetizing, plus it will melt at room temperature again whereas tempered chocolate will not.

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted
3 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies
Tempered chocolate, melted

1. Mix together cake mix, eggs, milk and vanilla. Batter will be thick.

2. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking pan.

3. Bake at 350 F for 25-28 minutes or until cake springs back lightly when touched.
4. Remove from oven and cool completely.
5. While cooling, beat butter in a large mixing bowl for about 30 seconds.

6. Add sugar, cocoa, cream and vanilla.

7. Slowly beat together, increasing in speed until frosting is creamy. Add more cream if needed.

8. Set this chocolate buttercream mixture aside
9. Crumble cake into small, even pieces, placing crumbs in a large bowl.
10. Add 1 1/2 cups of buttercream and cookies.

11. Using the back of a spoon, mix ingredients together until a thick dough consistency forms.

12. Shape into evenly sized cake bites and cool 2 hours in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer.

13. Melt tempered chocolate on very low heat until smooth
14. Carefully dip cake bites into mixture, coating evenly and then topping with extra cookie crumbs.