Easter Memories

I can’t believe that we are at the end of March and preparing for Easter weekend again! Last year 3 of my 4 kiddos were able to be with us for Easter. It was a special time with all three of the grands together for the first time! This year I will have only 2 of them plus a sweet daughter-in-law and 2 of the grands.

Recently I found a few pictures taken during my college days…senior year to be exact. I was a Home Economics major, and at the time, we had to spend 6 weeks in the Home Economics Residence. I happened to be assigned during the spring…including Easter. This picture was taken on Easter Sunday 36 years ago! I have been able to reconnect with 2 of my housemates through social media! We all got along very well and have lots of happy memories of those 6 weeks!

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If you’ve been ready this blog for any length of time, you will know that I got my love of baking from my dear mother. I also was the recipient of many of her small kitchen gadgets when she decided she needed to give up her own kitchen. I know that kitchen gadgets are not meant to last very long. They are items we often receive as gifts for bridal showers and are often replaced before too many years of marriage have passed. However, I do still happen to have a few items that belonged to my mother years ago. They were very well made way back then (early 1970s) and have withstood the test of time. Mom bought these two particular items from a very dear friend of hers who was a school teacher during the year, but needed work during the summer. At least one summer she sold kitchen items…Pampered Chef, perhaps?  I have no idea what company made these amazing tools, but they have lasted and lasted and lasted…like the Energizer Bunny, maybe? It is time for me to replace them, though, because they are finally wearing out. You can see the crack in the spatula to the left and the broken handle on the one on the right.

IMG_2831 For several years, our Easter dessert has been pavlova. This year will be no different! I have all the ingredients written on my grocery list! You can find the recipe here. Be sure to give it a try! Your family will love it!

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Chocolate-Espresso Dacquoise

This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  The hubby discovered it the other day and really wanted to give it a try.  It is definitely NOT  THM friendly, but it is very delicious! And, as we discovered, it takes a lot of time to create.  

If you want, you can click here to watch the video demonstration of making this delicious dessert!

Serves 10 to 12

The components in this recipe can easily be prepared in advance. Use a rimless baking sheet or an overturned rimmed baking sheet to bake the meringue. Instant coffee may be substituted for the espresso powder. To skin the hazelnuts, simply place the warm toasted nuts in a clean dish towel and rub gently. We recommend Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar with 60% cacao for this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • MERINGUE
  • 3/4 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (we omitted these since we didn’t have any)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • BUTTERCREAM
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (we used 2%)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
  • 1 1/2teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto or water (we used almond flavoring)
  • 1 1/2tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • GANACHE
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (we used a combination of bittersweet and semi-sweet)
  • 3/4cup heavy cream
  • 2teaspoons corn syrup
  • 12whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 1cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. FOR THE MERINGUE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Using ruler and pencil, draw 13 by 10 1/2-inch rectangle on piece of parchment paper. Grease baking sheet and place parchment on it, ink side down.

    2. Process almonds, hazelnuts, cornstarch, and salt in food processor until nuts are finely ground, 15 to 20 seconds. Add 1/2 cup sugar and pulse to combine, 1 to 2 pulses.

    3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. With mixer running at medium-high speed, slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold nut mixture into egg whites in 2 batches. With offset spatula, spread meringue evenly into 13 by 10 1/2-inch rectangle on parchment, using lines on parchment as guide. Using spray bottle, evenly mist surface of meringue with water until glistening. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringue to cool in oven for 1 1/2 hours. (Do not open oven during baking and cooling.) Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (Cooled meringue can be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.)

    4. FOR THE BUTTERCREAM: Heat milk in small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in bowl until smooth. Remove milk from heat and, whisking constantly, add half of milk to yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to remaining milk in saucepan. Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickens to consistency of warm pudding, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer pastry cream to bowl. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Before using, warm gently to room temperature in microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 10 seconds.

    5. Stir together amaretto and espresso powder; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pastry cream in 3 batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add amaretto mixture and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes longer, scraping down bowl thoroughly halfway through mixing.

    6. FOR THE GANACHE: Place chocolate in heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Stir mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool until chocolate mounds slightly when dripped from spoon, about 5 minutes.

    7. Carefully invert meringue and peel off parchment. Reinvert meringue and place on cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle, repeated scoring motion, trim edges of meringue to form 12 by 10-inch rectangle. Discard trimmings. With long side of rectangle parallel to counter, use ruler to mark both long edges of meringue at 3-inch intervals. Using serrated knife, score surface of meringue by drawing knife toward you from mark on top edge to corresponding mark on bottom edge. Repeat scoring until meringue is fully cut through. Repeat until you have four 10 by 3-inch rectangles. (If any meringues break during cutting, use them as middle layers.)

    8. Place 3 rectangles on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Using offset spatula, spread 1/4 cup ganache evenly over surface of each meringue. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 15 minutes. Set aside remaining ganache.

    9. Using offset spatula, spread top of remaining rectangle with 1/2 cup buttercream; place on wire rack with ganache-coated meringues. Invert 1 ganache-coated meringue, place on top of buttercream, and press gently to level. Repeat, spreading meringue with 1/2 cup buttercream and topping with inverted ganache-coated meringue. Spread top with buttercream. Invert final ganache-coated strip on top of cake. Use 1 hand to steady top of cake and spread half of remaining buttercream to lightly coat sides of cake, then use remaining buttercream to coat top of cake. Smooth until cake resembles box. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours. (Once buttercream is firm, assembled cake may be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

    10. Warm remaining ganache in heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until mixture is very fluid but not hot. Keeping assembled cake on wire rack, pour ganache over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread ganache in thin, even layer over top of cake, letting excess flow down sides. Spread ganache over sides in thin layer (top must be completely covered, but some small gaps on sides are OK).

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    11. Garnish top of cake with hazelnuts. Holding bottom of cake with 1 hand, gently press almonds onto sides with other hand. Chill on wire rack, uncovered, for at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours. Transfer to platter. Cut into slices with sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each slice. Serve.

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Resurrection Cookies

Easter is finally here!  After such a long and hard winter for most of the country, and spring teasing us for several weeks, it is nice to be able to enjoy the season, remembering what was done on the cross for us.

If you have young children in your home, you might enjoy making these cookies with them as you teach them about the Resurrection.  One of my favorite verses about the Easter season is “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen.”  (Luke 24:5-6)   This recipe is a great way to help them understand the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

 

Leighann over at Four Hobbits and a Giant shared this recipe. You can find it here.

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

I grew up eating the best lemon meringue pie ever!  My mom always made lemon meringue pies in the summer.  They were the perfect treat on a hot day here in the south.  Unfortunately, Mom’s recipe was in her head; it was never written down. So when I decided I just had to have some lemon meringue pie, I had to go searching for a recipe that tasted  at least close to hers!  This one is pretty good.  It does take a bit of time to make, but the results are definitely worth it!  When I make it again, I will probably use my deep-dish pie pan since I did have some filling and meringue left over.  I found it helpful to separate the eggs,  grate the lemon rind and squeeze the fresh lemon juice before I actually began to make the pie.

2 c. sugar

1/2 c. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. cold water

8 egg yolks

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1 tbsp. lemon juice

6 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell

meringue (recipe follows)

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in 2 c. water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg yolks.  Slowly add 1 cup hot sugar mixture to eggs yolks, stirring constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining hot sugar mixture in saucepan, stirring constantly. Stir in lemon juice and zest, butter and vanilla. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until mixture is thick and smooth. Spoon mixture into prebaked pie crust; cover and chill for about 4 hours.

Make meringue by whisking together 1-1/2 cups sugar and 6 egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water, whisking constantly,  about 4 minutes or  until candy thermometer reaches 140 degrees and sugar dissolves.  Pour mixture into a large bowl and beat on high for 10 minutes. Mixture will become stiff and creamy white.  Spread meringue over chilled lemon pie.  Serve immediately, or chill for several hours.   If desired, broil pie for 1-2 minutes to gently brown meringue.