Posts Tagged lemon curd

My Style: Banana Whoopie Pies With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Whoopie Pie 1

I think these pies are my style.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about style. One of the questions I always ask the pastry chefs I interview is “what’s your approach to pastry,” which is another way of asking “what’s your style?” Well, these banana whoopie pies with lemon cream cheese frosting? They’re my style.

Whoopie pies aren’t fancy – unlike cupcakes, they can’t be topped with fondant hearts or elaborate swirls of frosting. They’re unassuming, simple – even a little homely. And yet you can’t deny the power of a great whoopie pie. This one, with two sweet, fragrant banana cake rounds that sandwich a sweet, tart filling, speaks to the great satisfaction one can take in simple things. The flavor of the bananas really sings through the cake, and is tempered by the fresh bite of the homemade lemon curd in the filling.

I was even more pleased with this recipe, because I actually adapted it from a recipe in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes for a banana cake. Rather than using someone else’s recipe, I wanted to see if i could make my own modifications and have it actually work. And I’m happy to say that it did. Slightly decreasing the oil and upping the flour amount to mimic that of another whoopie pie recipe meant that the batter held together well enough when scooped out on the baking sheet, and baked into light and fluffy rounds.

Simple, unassuming, great tasting – I think that’s my pastry style. So what’s your pastry style? Do you go for the fancy French pastries? The down-home desserts from the south? Or do you prefer your baked goods to be cute and whimsical?

Banana Whoopie Pies 2

These were a hit at my book club's two year anniversary party. Two years ladies!

Recipe: Banana whoopie pies with lemon cream cheese filling

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When Life Gives You Cookie Dough, Make Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

Lemon cheesecake cookies - the first of many sugar cookie experiments.

When life gives you lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, but what about ten pounds of sugar cookie dough? The excess dough I had left over from last week’s TogoRun cookies presented me with quite a dilemma. As I’ve mentioned before, this dough failed to hold its shape, making it unsuitable for last week’s cookie project.

Since I rarely ever make sugar cookies – I usually find them too sweet for my taste – I turned to Twitter for ideas. The lovely Alejandra sent me this Real Simple article about creative uses for sugar cookie dough, which gave me the idea to make thumbprint cookies. I also had a lot of pre-zested lemons left over, and I already knew I wanted to use them for lemon curd. So I decided that, if life gave me lemon curd and cookie dough, I would make lemon cheesecake thumbprints.

I need to digress here for a moment, because you really need to know just how wonderful this lemon curd is. This is the third time that I’ve made this particular lemon curd using a recipe from The Cake Bible, and each time I make it I fall a little more in love. While some lemon curds can be cloying, this is tart and fresh, and really tastes of lemons. Mixed with cream cheese and a little sugar, it made a pungent, creamy, refreshing filling that was good enough to eat on its own.

My other little twist on these cookies is that I rolled each of the sugar cookies in orange scented sugar before baking them, which gave them a deeper citrus note and a nice sparkle. But in the end, the problem with these cookies was the dough – although I shaped them into little thumbprints and even froze them before hand, they still spread out like crazy and my perfect little indentations were lost. I ended up spooning the filling in circles on top of the cookies. Instead of perfect little thumbprints, they looked like a sugar cookie crossed with a lemon danish.

I can’t in good conscience call these thumbprint cookies, although that’s what they were intended to be. But they were still pretty tasty – I liked the tartness of the filling set against the sweet cookie base (which is still too sweet for my taste, but whatever). Were I to make these again I’d bake the cookies slightly less – the brown edges were crispier than I wanted them to be. And I’ll definitely be using the filling again – hopefully in proper thumbprints next time.

Only nine pounds of dough to go.

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies 2

Man, I'm going to be really sick of sugar cookies by the end of this.

Recipe: Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

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Almond Birthday Cake With Lemon Curd, Blueberries, and Mascarpone Frosting

Mom's Birthday Cake - 1

My mother's birthday cake.

I haven’t been home for my mother’s birthday for years – not since my Freshman year in college, when my parents forced me to live at home so I could finally get my driver’s license (to this day, I am thankful that they made me do that). But my trip coincided with her birthday (no, I’m not allowed to say which birthday it was), and I was very excited to have the opportunity to make her a birthday cake.

Mom's Birthday Cake - 2

Not sure if the lemon curd drizzle "works," but I like the blueberry decorations.

My mother is a big fan of lemon desserts, so I was determined to make something with a lemon accent. I’ve also been hankering to have the almond cake from The Cake Bible again, ever since I made those almond cupcakes for my coworker. And since it was berry season in Oregon, I decided to include a berry accent. I originally wanted to use raspberries, but since blueberries were half the price, I went with those instead.

In the end, I decided on making a double batch of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s almond cake, and baking it in 8 inch by two inch cake pans, which created a marvelously towering cake. I filled it with lemon curd (store bought – I didn’t have time to let my own set up) and blueberries.

Mom's Birthday Cake - Center

The lemon curd and bueberry filling.

I also thought long and hard about my frosting options. Like me, my mother isn’t a fan of classic, all-butter buttercream frostings, and she’s always thought that powdered sugar frostings were too sweet (she doesn’t share my love of Safeway cupcakes). So I opted for a whipped-cream, marscarpone frosting. I was really excited about it, and flavor-wise it was spot on. But I did something wrong, because the frosting texture was all off. Instead of being light and creamy, the frosting had an unappealing grainy texture – as you can see from the photos. I think that I overwhipped something at some point – although I swear to God I tried as hard as possible to not overbeat the mascarpone.

Mom's Birthday Cake - Crumb Coat

The crumb coat.

It was still a beautiful cake – and one that I would make again, although perhaps with a cream cheese frosting instead. The almond cake really tastes of almonds – the almond extract subtly enhances the flavor of the nuts themselves. And the sweet almond cake pairs nicely with the tart lemons and blueberries. The frosting isn’t too sweet, and has a nice tang and complexity to it – if the texture had held up it would have been perfect.

Mom's Birthday Cake - Piece

A finished slice.

Almond Cake With Lemon Curd, Blueberries and Marscarpone Frosting

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