You guys as I tell you about these epic muffins there is an entirely different banana bread recipe baking in my oven, right this minute! It’s fair to say we are not balanced in our coverage of awesome banana related recipes, but so far, there have been no complaints, because we only post the very best ones! These are my Mother and Father in-law’s number one favorite from the genius kitchen of Tyler Florence. They have SERIOUS banana flavor because of the method of pureeing some of the banana’s and leaving the rest in chunks that combined with the pecans make for an amazing texture. The recipe is for a banana bread, but muffins are easier for my family so we often go that route. If you choose to make the bread just bake until doneness about an hour and 10 minutes which makes for beautifully caramelized edges. You will love them!
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 and line or spray a standard muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin filling 3/4 the way or into your loaf pan.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes for muffins an hour and 10-15 for loaf – until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Rotate a time or two for even browning.
Cool the muffins in pan for 10 minutes or so, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. If you make the bread, Tyler recommends you toast it and dust with confectioners sugar for a special treat.
French Macaroons have eluded me for years. I enjoy these lovely little cookies, but they are a challenge to perfect because there is that tricky step where you need to make your meringue not too deflated, but just deflated enough, there’s an art to it that I haven’t quite figured out. But these, although not perfect, were so delicious I just had to share them. They are not going to be on the cover of a magazine, but I felt they were cute enough, and as usual, my readers will probably do even better than me in making them get that smooth dome and perfect little ridge of lift that every macaroon needs to be tip top. In the flavor department they were a knockout. I love using buttercream in the center, and peanut butter with the vanilla cookie was such a magical treat. I made a few with other fillings, but this was by far my favorite. This is a super versatile macaroon recipe so fill them with whatever sounds good to you – the peanut butter frosting I used is below for your reference.
For the macaroons:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
For the frosting: 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
To make the macaroons: Process the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor for 20-30 seconds. Sift to remove any large pieces and to aerate the mixture.
Separate the eggs and put the whites in the bowl you’ll use to whip them. Don’t start whipping yet, but add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar.
Combine the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rapid boil.
Boil for 2 minutes; the temperature of the syrup should reach between 235°F and 240°F. Take the syrup off the heat. Immediately start whipping the egg whites, using an electric mixer. When they hold a curved peak on the end of the beater, stop, grab the pan of hot syrup, resume beating, and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat. Add the vanilla once the meringue is thick.
Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and forms soft peaks.
Fold in the almond flour/sugar until everything is evenly combined, then start stirring. This will thin the mixture. Stir until the batter runs in ribbons that disappear back into the mass in 10 to 20 seconds. Test frequently, and stop stirring when you reach this point. I think I often stop too soon which gives my cookies too much lift, they should pipe out pretty flat.
Use a pastry bag to deposit a generous teaspoon-sized round blob of batter onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. The cookie should flatten out, rather than remain in a tall blob. If it doesn’t spread, stir the batter some more; your goal is a disc-like, fairly flat cookie.
Repeat with the remainder of the batter. Since the cookies won’t spread as they bake, you can position them fairly close together.
Allow to rest in a dry place with good air circulation (a counter top is fine) until you can gently touch the tops and come away with a clean finger, about 2 hours. Now is a good time to make your frosting (see step 14 below). Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 275°F.
Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, till firm on the top.
Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on sheet. Use a thin spatula to carefully separate them from the parchment or foil.
Spread half the cookies with peanut butter frosting, or any combination of fillings your heart desires. Top with the remaining cookies.
Yield: 20 to 22 filled cookies.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Raspberries and chocolate are totally MFEO, and this dark chocolatey tart is the most simple, elegant, and in all ways delicious way to eat them. I was inspired when I found beautiful golden raspberries and my local market, I wanted to show them off and this super easy tart was the perfect dessert to compliment them. I’m sure you could also use strawberries, blueberries or whatever fresh fruit you’re in the mood for. By the way, I really think the coarse salt makes a difference and it’s easy to find, just a small amount can make a dark chocolate dessert really POP off your palette!
36 chocolate wafer cookies (about 8 ounces or one box of the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus a pinch
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped or chips (you can also use semi-sweet chocolate chips, or whatever chocolate your prefer)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, combine the cookies, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until very fine crumbs form. Add butter and pulse until mixture comes together. Press crumbs firmly into a 9 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is dry and set, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
In a large bowl combine chocolate and a pinch of salt. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a bare simmer on medium high heat. Immediately pour cream over chocolate and let stand 1 minute, add vanilla. Stir gently until chocolate melts and mixture is completely smooth. pour chocolate into cooled tart shell and refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes. To serve, remove tart from pan and put raspberries or whatever fruit you’re using on top.
The dark, mysterious, beautifully flavored and often misunderstood blackberry is the star of this show. Nice firm and tart Granny Smith apples support the berries so things aren’t one note smooshy or soupy, but that gorgeous dark magenta berry bubbling out the top of these hand pies tastes like all that is right in the world. I used this butter crust recipe, and you know I’m loyal to my shortening, but for a handpie where you’re going to need to handle the dough more and it takes more of a center stage, this dough worked out well, but it is tougher to make and can be harder to work with so feel free to use a shortening dough if that’s what you prefer. You can use other berries too, but this combo made for a sweet and sour flavor explosion of total and complete hand-pie joy!
Pâte Brisée (don’t be freaked out by the name, it’s basically just a butter crust) 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
extra flour for dusting
1 egg lightly beaten for tops of pies
demera or raw sugar for sprinkling
Apple Berry Filling:
2 granny smith apples peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
2 1/2 cups blackberries 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I thought this was the perfect amount of sweetness, but you can use a little more if you want your pies less sweet) 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
First make the Pâte Brisée or crust. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
With machine running, add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. (The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)
To make the filling in a medium bowl, add apples, blackberries, lemon, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and cardamom; stir to combine, set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (a French nonstick baking mat) or parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll one half of dough into a large rectangle, about 1/8-inch-thick. Using a 5-inch cookie cutter, cut out 6 rounds. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet. I used a small bowl and just traced around it with a knife because I don’t have a large cookie cutter – I think mine was just short of 5 inches.
Place about 3 or so tablespoons of the apple/berry mixture onto one round – use a slotted spoon and leave any juices in the bowl so you don’t get soupy pies. Lightly brush egg around the edge of each round. Take another dough round and put it on top. Gently press edges together to seal. I then took a fork to the edge for decoration, do what you think looks cool. Brush the tops of each pie with egg. Using a paring knife, slash the top of each pie. Sprinkle generously with raw or demera sugar.
Repeat this process with second half of dough and remaining filling on second baking sheet.I was able to make 8 total, but you can use less filling and roll them over into half moons to make more.
Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pies to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. Or let cool completely, and store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
My friend Lizzie is a full on Italian princess, you could drop her in the middle of any Italian town or city and with her long brown hair, incredible figure, awesome taste, and striking eyes she would fit right in. She has 3 boys and recently found out she’s having a baby girl! For her Italian themed baby shower she requested these special cookies that are made with Ricotta cheese, I had never heard of them, but was delighted to oblige her request. They were a huge hit! My family loved them because I don’t often make cookies like this, it’s almost like a fancy and elegant sugar cookie, but the texture is a mix between a cookie and a pastry. The cheese balances the flavor and adds some fun and interesting depth instead of just a boring sugar sweet cookie. For the icing, I added some almond extract and sprinkled them with gold just to be extra bourguie. Next time I make them I’m going to add about a tablespoon of orange zest because I think they would be brilliantly complimented by some citrus, but all who I served them to went crazy over them just the way they are, PERFECTO! (That’s Italian for perfect right?…)
(please note this makes a large quantity, but it’s handy because you use an entire package of ricotta, you could always half it and use the rest in your lasagna or other Italiano recipe)
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cups white sugar
15 ounces ricotta cheese (my carton had 16 which worked out fine)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4-5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
decorative sprinkles of your choice
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (but you can place cookies directly on ungreased cookie sheets and they would be okay)
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and blend into the creamed mixture, mixing in additional flour as necessary to form a workable dough. You don’t want it too dry, but you need to be able to handle it enough to roll into balls. I ended up wearing gloves and dipping them in flour a number of times just to make things less messy.
Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls, I used my cookie scoop. Arrange with a little room to expand on your baking sheet.
Bake 9-11 minutes until lightly browned and nicely risen.
For the glaze beat milk, confectioners sugar, and almond extract until smooth. Spoon over cookies and before the glaze sets sprinkle with your decorative sugar or sprinkles.
If you have loads more than you can eat or feed people over a few days freeze some before you glaze them to eat another time and just glaze them once defrosted.
My mom makes the best apricot jam in the world (recipe coming soon, don’t you fret). I always try to get a jar when I visit or have her bring me one (or two or three). So, the other night when we were having an Italian themed family dinner at my house I knew what I had to do. Last fall, I had one of these homemade beauties in Rome and have wanted to make one ever since. I added almond flour to the original recipe and love the little bit of extra “oomph” that it gives. This crostata is simple, summery and oh so heavenly!
Serves 10 – 12
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
150g chilled butter, cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
1/4 icy cold water
2 cups good quality apricot jam (I used my mama’s cause I’m lucky like that)
Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor with dough blade and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and the icy cold water and process until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Scoop out of the bowl, wrap in cling wrap and let it sit for at 40 minutes in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350 F and generously grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable base. Form 1/2 the pastry into a ball and place between 2 sheets of baking paper. Roll out until it is about half a centimeter thick and then line the base and sides with the pastry. The pastry should come about 2 cm up the side of the tin. Spread the jam evenly across the base of the tart. Now roll out the remaining pastry and cut it into strips. Carefully drape the strips over the pastry in a lattice pattern, leaving a nice gap between the strips. The pastry can be a little soft and sticky, so I didn’t weave the strips because the dough was tearing too easily to do that (I didn’t let it sit for 40 minutes in the fridge—only 20 minutes—which is why I changed that in the instructions). Trim any extra bits of pastry from the edges and bake in the oven on the top third rack for 35 – 40 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden (mine took a bit longer than that, but my oven is trippin lately). Cool before serving.
Hellllllooooooo SUMMER!! **Said in my best Oprah voice**
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s gotten pretty hot out around these parts. And all I want in the summer is refreshing slushy drinks. My friend made a version of this for me a while back and I have thought about it on every hot day since. This is SO refreshing and so simple to make, it should be a summer staple. It’s even pretty healthy but tastes like dessert, so it’s a winner all around!
1 cup frozen honeydew
1 cup frozen green grapes (red if you want this a bit sweeter)
1/4 oz. fresh mint leaves
2 cups milk of your choice (I use a coconut/almond blend and it adds the perfect touch of flavor and slight sweetness)
1 half can of lemon/lime soda of your choice (you can eliminate this and add more milk if you want to keep it more healthy, but the bubbles add a nice subtle kick)
Blend all ingredients together until you have a slushy shake. Add more or less milk depending on desired consistency. Drink and find a hammock enjoy these magical summer days!
Note: This recipe is kind of loosey-goosey. You can adjust any or all of the ingredients, depending on desired consistency and sweetness. Also, it’s important that the grapes and honeydew are frozen or it will be a mushy mess!
My firstborn recently turned 7 – and like most 7 year old girls she is a big “Hello Kitty” fan. I came across a cute hello kitty cake pan on wilton.com and decided to whoop it up as a special birthday surprise. I filled it with a rainbow cake and it looked so small and sad all alone that I made another rainbow cake which made it into a much more substantial and fancy rainbow layer cake. I’m not talented as a decorator, my strengths are in making the most delicious cakes, not the most beautiful, but I’ve been working on it, and I’m going to go ahead and say this cake turned out super awesome! I have to give Wilton credit because I just looked on the packaging that came on the pan as inspiration for how to frost the cake, but I did a few things my own way that paid off big time in the flavor department, which is obviously the most important! You can fill it with any cake you like, but I’m going to give instructions for my easy delicious rainbow cake and cream cheese frosting. And believe me, cutting into a double rainbow cake is such a fun and dramatic reveal – girls of a certain age are guaranteed to go nuts when you pull out the first slice!
For the cakes:
2 boxes white cake mix – I use pillsbury classic white cake mix
1 cup butter melted (separated 1/2 cup or 1 stick per cake)
2 cups water (separated 1 cup per cake)
6 eggs (separated 3 eggs per cake) room temperature works best
For the Frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
10 tablespoons 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (sifted)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or cream (if needed to thin a little) black decorating gel
red or pink food dye
yellow food dye
For the cake. Prepare your pan by spraying it with baking spray or coating in butter and patting flour into the pan. I find it works best to make one cake at a time. I also think it’s helpful to use paper bowls for the colors, much less mess and they are easy to pour with. Line up 6 bowls, spray them lightly with cooking spray so your batter dumps out easily.
In a large bowl mix 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 3 eggs, add the cake mix. Pour batter as evenly as you can between your 6 paper bowls (if you want to go all out you can weigh them but I found it quite easy to eyeball it). In the first bowl put yellow food coloring until you achieve desired color and do the same for orange, red, purple, blue, and green. Pour each color into your cake pan in order from the center. Just pour one over another ending with the green. Give it a good smack on the counter and without mixing your colors make sure the batter is in the ears of the mold.
Bake for about 27-33 minutes, focus on doneness rather than bake time. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean and your cake has started to barely pull from the sides of the pan. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool cut off the round top (treat for later!) and place kitty face side up on to your cake board, stand or serving plate.
To make your next rainbow cake repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
To make the frosting, cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla then add the sifted powdered sugar. If your frosting seems too thick put a teaspoon of whole milk or cream in with it.
To frost the cake. On your first cake that is cut side down, kitty side up, plop a fairly generous (3/4 cup or so at least) heap of frosting on the top and spread evenly touching your spatula to the frosting only and not the cake. Take about 1/2 cup frosting and mix with red or pink food dye to make the bow color. Take about a tablespoon or two and mix with yellow to make the nose color. I used a parchment piping bag for the yellow and put the pink into a piping bag with a small star tip – wilton recommends tip 16, but I eyeballed it and it worked out. Place the second layer and now go step by step for the kitty frosting detail.
First fill in the inside loop of the bow, I used the star tip and smoothed it out with my spatula (not a perfectionist obviously).
Outline the inside and outside loop of the bow and the knot with the black decorating gel.
Fill in the rest of the stars with your pink frosting. Be sure to apply even pressure and lift the bag off only after you’ve stopped pushing or your stars will be weird and pointy.
Use a parchment bag, a plastic bag with a hole cut or even just your frosting spatula to fill in the yellow nose and smooth it out
Use the black decorating gel to fill in the eyes.
Use the black decorating gel to fill in the whiskers
Fill a large piping bag with a small star tip – wilton recommends 16 (I pull the sides up over a tall vase to fill it then fold them over) with all the rest of your white cream cheese frosting.
Pipe stars all over the head of your kitty trying not to leave too many gaps (as you can see if you compare, mine had way more gaps than wilton’s, but it still looked awesome). This takes a minute, but it’s not to hard.
Once I had piped out the stars I filled in the black a little better here and there.
To frost the sides of your cake, either take what’s left in your bag and spread it onto the sides with a frosting spatula, or pipe it evenly around your cake. I tried this, but couldn’t keep my hand steady enough so I ended up smoothing it with the spatula after I piped it and it looked great. Enjoy!
I’ve been looking up ideas lately that are quick and that maybe take a break from our chocolate obsession. This one fit the bill perfectly and seemed like ideal treat to bring to a family BBQ. I love bananas, I love pudding and I love meringue (although it tends to be my nemesis). I added more Nilla wafers and bananas than the original recipe, and everyone was quite pleased with the results.
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided 1/3cup cornstarch 4cups whole milk 4large eggs, separated and divided 1teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon salt 2tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 111-ounce box Nilla wafers (you won’t use the entire box, unless you pour the rest in your mouth—which—no judemgent here.) 5 bananas
Preheat oven to 350. Make custard: whisk 3/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, milk and egg yolks in a pot set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until it just begins to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn heat down slightly, and allow mixture to simmer, still stirring constantly, for 1 minute, then remove mixture from heat. Whisk in vanilla, salt and butter.
Make meringue: put the egg whites, cream of tartar and 1/2 cup of sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch, about 3 minutes (This will melt the sugar). Transfer to the stand mixer fitted with whisk, and beat until stiff, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Line a 13-by-9-inch oven-safe casserole pan with two layers of Nilla wafers (I did one side face up and the other side face down to fill in the gaps) and layer all of the banana slices.
Pour the custard over the bananas and cookies, then use a spatula to spread the meringue. Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the peaks are the color of a toasted marshmallow. Allow to rest until ready to serve. (The author talks about how the meringue can weep a bit, I couldn’t find a way around that, but maybe those who are more masterful with meringue have some tips for that…)